Fox Corp CEO Lachlan Murdoch is suing the owner of a small Australian political news site for defamation over a column that held him responsible for rhetoric on Fox News ahead of the January 6 U.S. Capitol siege. ‘last year.
The lawsuit came just a day after the Crikey website – in full-page ads in The New York Times and australia Canberra Times — dared Murdoch to follow through on his earlier threats to sue.
The site’s offensive opinion column on June 29 argued that thanks to Fox News, Lachlan Murdoch and his father Rupert shared responsibility for the US Capitol seat with former President Donald Trump.
In his lawsuit, attorneys for Murdoch said the CEO “was seriously injured in his character, personal reputation and professional reputation as a businessman and corporate director” and also suffered “injury , substantial distress and embarrassment” because of the article and its promotion.
In a response message, Crikey management said the site “stands by its history and we look forward to defending our independent public interest journalism in court against the considerable resources of Lachlan Murdoch.”
Crikey editor Peter Fray told NPR the site doesn’t mean it’s literally responsible, but that “responsibility has to stop somewhere.”
“Lachlan Murdoch seems desperate to disassociate himself from Fox’s actions in inciting the January 6 insurrection,” Fray told NPR previously. “And he’s taking some pretty extraordinary steps to shut down public debate in this country.”
Lawyers for Murdoch gave evidence in Australian Federal Court in Sydney on Tuesday. The case cites the article’s circulation on Twitter and allegations of intimidation of Crikey by Murdoch.
Crikey executives said they hope the lawsuit serves as a test of Australia’s defamation laws, which they say are too restrictive.
Meanwhile, in the United States, Murdoch and Fox are pushing back two defamation cases against election technology and voting machine companies in the United States. The cases, involving false allegations of fraud in the November 2020 election, seek more than $4 billion combined.