NYC Pension Funds Allege False Election Coverage Exposed Company To Defamation


New York City’s pension funds and Oregon filed a lawsuit against Fox Corporation on Wednesday accusing it and its board of repeatedly broadcasting false information about the 2020 presidential election, allegedly exposing itself to defamation lawsuits that could reduce shareholder value—a claim that comes months after Fox settled its $787 million defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems.

Key Facts

The lawsuit, which also alleged Fox made “no good-faith efforts to monitor for or mitigate defamation risk,” said the media company’s model was based on promoting false claims, according to a statement from the Oregon Department of Justice.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum added in the statement that Fox’s board of directors “took a massive risk in pursuing profits by perpetuating and peddling known falsehoods.”

New York City’s pension funds held about 857,000 shares of Fox stock worth $28.1 million, according to the New York Times, which first reported the news and cited a spokeswoman for the city comptroller.

The complaint does not specify damages being sought, according to the Times, which added plaintiffs are seeking “governance and ethics reforms” at Fox.

Oregon is representing the Oregon Public Employee Retirement Fund, a Fox investor that held more than 225,000 shares of Fox stock worth approximately $5.2 million, the state Justice Department added.

A Fox spokesperson declined to comment and told Forbes Tuesday its legal team did not have the filing reported by the Times.

Crucial Quote

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander told Forbes that “Fox’s board blatantly disregarded the need for journalistic standards and failed to put safeguards in place despite having a business model that invites defamation litigation.”

Big Number

$253 billion. That’s the worth of New York City’s five pension funds, which also represent more than 750,000 workers, according to city data.

Key Background

The funds’ lawsuit is one of multiple Fox has been hit with recently, many of which are linked to the company’s news coverage. Fox is about five months removed from the $787.5 million settlement reached to resolve its defamation case with Dominion Voting Systems. The electronic voting company sued Fox for $1.6 billion in March 2021, accusing Fox of defaming the company through fraudulent claims about the 2020 presidential election concerning its machines. In July, Trump supporter Ray Epps, who was in Washington, D.C., during the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol attack, accused Fox News of defamation after former host Tucker Carlson suggested he instigated the attack as an undercover agent. Fox was also hit with a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit this year from a different voting machine company, Smartmatic, though the case isn’t expected to go to trial until 2025, according to the Times.

Further Reading

Fox Sued by New York City Pension Funds Over Election Falsehoods (New York Times)

Fox News Settles Dominion Defamation Case For $787.5 Million, Dominion Lawyer Says (Forbes)


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