A small Australian news site has made an unusual request to be sued by Fox News boss Lachlan Murdoch against one of the world’s most influential media figures.
Crikey, an often pugilist Australian news site, published on Monday a series of legal threats it allegedly received from Murdoch’s lawyers over published comments about Fox News’ role in the US Capitol bombings.
Murdoch is the eldest son of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, owner of dozens of outlets including Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.
His lawyers claimed a June article – headlined ‘Trump is a confirmed unhinged traitor. And Murdoch is his unindicted co-conspirator’ – defamed the media scion 22 times.
The article focused primarily on former US President Donald Trump’s role in the January 6, 2021 insurgency attempt.
It didn’t specifically name Lachlan Murdoch, but it did refer to the “Murdochs and their slew of venomous Fox News commentators.”
Crikey said he decided to “fight” the threats from Murdoch’s lawyers and rejected their demands to permanently remove the article from his website and issue an apology.
“We want to defend these allegations in court,” the editor and president of Crikey said in a joint open letter, published Monday as an announcement in The New York Times.
Both men framed the issue as a battle for press freedom and said they welcomed the opportunity ‘to test this important issue of freedom of public interest journalism in a courtroom’ .
The legal battle pits an upstart website, with a subscriber count in the tens of thousands, against one of the world’s largest media empires.
If the case goes ahead, Crikey will have to contend with Australia’s tough defamation laws, which offer little protection to the media.
The Murdoch family remains a major player in Australian media, despite their global expansion into the United States and Britain.
Fox Corporation declined to comment.