Lachlan Murdoch Says Fox News Reports “Without Fear Or Favor” And “Noise” Over Dominion Suit Reflects “Polarized Society” Not Law

Lachlan Murdoch Efren Landaos/Getty Images

Lachlan Murdoch, in his first public comments about a defamation lawsuit against Fox News that’s been grabbing headlines, said he believes the network is even handed and all the “noise” is more reflective of the nation’s divided politics than anything else.

“It think fundamentally, what I would say about it, is [that] a news organization has an obligation and it is an obligation to report the news fulsomely, wholesomely and without fear or favor. And that is what Fox News has always done and will always do,” the Fox Corp. CEO told a Morgan Stanley investor conference Thursday.

“And I think a lot of the noise is not about law … it is really about politics. And that’s unfortunately more reflective of this sort of polarized society we live in today.”

His comments come several days after a flood of legal filings including rather incendiary emails and texts and deposition transcripts were released as part of a $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems.

Dominion alleges that Fox News executives and hosts knowingly spread false information about the company, which makes electronic voting machines, the idea being that it helped to tip the election to Joe Biden. Dominion says its business was damaged and alleges that Fox figures did not believe Donald Trump’s election fraud claims but amplified them on air anyway to avoid alienating Fox viewers. At the time, right-wing cable news rivals Newsmax and OAN were making inroads against the longtime leader.   

Fox News defends its coverage by arguing that a sitting president’s allegations of election fraud are undoubtedly newsworthy.

The case has generated huge attention in recent weeks, except on Fox News. It doesn’t appear to have impacted ratings on the juggernaut,

Fox News is undoubtedly a ratings juggernaut, which Murdoch in comments today almost seemed to compare to a lifestyle channel. “It’s not just a news channel, but a channel that speaks to middle America and respects the values of middle America, as a media business that is most relevant to them, as opposed to just a news channel.” The parent successfully launched Fox Weather and Fox Nation off the back of that popularity.

He touted what he called the net’s diverse viewership, including, he insisted, more Democrats and independents, more Latinos and Asians, than watch CNN and MSNBC, giving a shout-out and show of support to Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott, who has been front and center in the Dominion documents. “It’s a credit to Suzanne Scott and her team. They have done an incredible job,” he said.

Fox Corp.’s stock price is down just over 2% today. The company, which includes Fox Sports, the Fox broadcast networks and stations and AVOD streaming service Tubi, has been performing well but this lawsuit could emerge as a major business story given the big sums at stake and potential value destruction for shareholders.

Chairman of the board Rupert Murdoch has acknowledged he didn’t believe Dominion had committed fraud or that the election had been stolen and that he could have been more proactive in reining in Fox hosts. Lachlan Murdoch is on the board, as is former House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Both Murdochs were critical of Fox news reporters who broke with the Trump narrative of a stolen election.

Dominion and Fox will argue their motions for summary judgment in Delaware Superior Court on March 21. If he turns down both summary judgment motions, a jury trial is scheduled to start in April.

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