Pension funds for New York City and the state of Oregon sued Fox Corp. in Delaware on Tuesday. They allege that as shareholders they were negatively impacted by Fox News’ decisions to air falsehoods, which resulted in a $787.5 million defamation settlement with Dominion Voting Systems and other legal claims.
They argue that Fox’s leaders “consciously disregarded defamation risks” in an effort to stay in viewers’ good graces, including by spreading claims of election fraud in the 2020 presidential race that they knew to be false.
“Defendants chose to invite robust defamation claims, with potentially huge financial liability and potentially larger business repercussions, rather than disappoint viewers of Fox News,” states the lawsuit, which was shared with HuffPost.
The complaint also claims that Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, who effectively control Fox Corp., “caused Fox News to promote political narratives without regard for whether the underlying factual assertions were true or based on sources worthy of credit.”
HuffPost has reached out to Fox Corp. for comment.
New York City’s pension funds are long-term shareholders at Fox, while the Oregon Public Employee Retirement Fund had about $5.2 million worth of stock in the company as of the end of August.
The lawsuit, filed under seal in Delaware’s Chancery Court, was first obtained by The New York Times.
New York City’s top financial officer, Brad Lander, who is in charge of the city’s pension funds, said the legal action is an effort to hold Fox accountable.
“A lack of journalistic standards and a proper strategy to mitigate defamation has clearly harmed Fox’s reputation and threatens their bottom line and long-term profitability,” Lander said in a statement. “Clear governance systems are absolutely necessary for the long-term health of a company.”
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said, “We look forward to making our case in court.”
In April, Fox News reached its eleventh-hour $787.5 million deal with Dominion Voting Systems to avoid what was likely to be an embarrassing trial for the network. Previously in the lawsuit, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis had ruled it was “CRYSTAL clear” that Fox aired 20 specific false statements after the 2020 election.
The company faces another suit from Smartmatic USA, another voting technology company, which is seeking $2.7 billion for baseless claims that it somehow interfered with the 2020 result.