If Lachlan Murdoch thought that suing the independent Australian news site, Crikey, would improve his public image, he might want to think again.
As I wrote in a previous post, Lachlan Murdoch threatened to sue Crikey over a column calling “Murdoch” and “The Murdochs” Trump’s “unindicted co-conspirator(s)” of the January 6th insurrection. Since then, the younger Murdoch, who is not mentioned by name in the column, has sued, alleging defamation, The Guardian reports.
Guardian Columnist Richard Ackland was scathing in a column called, “Lachlan Murdoch v Crikey may turn out to be a misconceived adventure in reputation repair.”
There is a sense among those who have watched the evolving litigation at 10 paces that here is someone whose own very skewed and shouty media organisation can dish it out with impunity, but he can’t take it if a minnow does the same.
Given the astonishing list of [Tucker] Carlson’s false or debunked claims, it is awkward in the extreme for Lachlan Murdoch to keep TV host on his payroll while at the same time claiming himself to be a victim of falsehoods.
At first blush there seems to be plenty of material to mount a strong defence to Murdoch’s claim. And it will be interesting to see how the applicant, hypersensitive as he appears to be, fares under sustained cross-examination.
Ackland quotes a seasoned defamation lawyer who says, “much worse has been published by the Washington Post, the New York Times and the ABC about Fox News propagating Trump’s ‘big lie.’
Vanity Fair wrote about the then-pending lawsuit in an article headlined, “LACHLAN MURDOCH IS AWFULLY DEFENSIVE ABOUT THE IMPLICATION FOX NEWS HELPED INCITE JAN. 6.” The first sentence reads, “You’d think Lachlan Murdoch has bigger things to worry about.”
The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple was more measured in his column but was hardly sympathetic to Murdoch. The headline of that column called Murdoch’s lawsuit “pathetic” and noted that the Crikey column engaged in “rhetorical hyperbole,” rather than alleging any actual criminal activity on the part of the Murdochs.
Then there was this:
The Murdochs have some familiarity with the hyperbole doctrine, considering that Fox News rode it to a court victory in 2020. Former Playboy model Karen McDougal sued Fox News over commentary by Tucker Carlson accusing her of committing “extortion” against Donald Trump. She’d done no such thing, but the federal judge in the case tossed the complaint: “Accusations of ‘extortion,’ ‘blackmail,’ and related crimes, such as the statements Mr. Carlson made here, are often construed as merely rhetorical hyperbole when they are not accompanied by additional specifics of the actions purportedly constituting the crime,” wrote U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil
So Lachlan Murdoch may win the battle of his court case but he’s already losing the battle of improving his reputation.
(Murdoch caricature by DonkeyHotey)