New York City’s five pension funds are suing the parent company of Fox News and its board for making the company vulnerable to defamation lawsuits by broadcasting lies about the 2020 presidential election.
The city's pension funds are big shareholders of Fox Corp. and they are not happy, to say the least, about the huge payouts Fox has had to make because of its mismanagement - and at least two more are in the offing.
From The New York Times:
“We are shareholders at a company that, unfortunately, has a longstanding practice of allowing conspiracy theories that its executives and its board know are false to be repeated over and over and over again, despite the very clear and present risk of defamation lawsuits eroding shareholder value,” said Brad Lander, New York City’s comptroller, who oversees the pension funds. “And there has been no effort to make governance reforms.”
The lawsuit accuses Fox of trying to appease its viewers after the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election by amplifying false claims from former President Donald J. Trump and his allies that voting had been rigged. It said board directors had known there was a risk of defamation litigation from the false narratives, but “consciously disregarded” it and did not undertake good-faith efforts to minimize that risk.
“Defendants chose to invite robust defamation claims, with potentially huge financial liability and potentially larger business repercussions, rather than disappoint viewers of Fox News,” said the complaint, which was filed against Fox Corporation’s board members and other executives. The board includes the media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan Murdoch, who control the company.
The Fox board also includes Paul Ryan.
According to The Times, the pension funds held about 857,000 shares, valued at more than $28 million, as of July 31.
The State of Oregon has joined the suit, on behalf of that state’s public employees’ retirement fund.