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FREE SPEECH CHALLENGE: Fox News’ Lachlan Murdoch sues indie news outlet for defamation

FREE SPEECH CHALLENGE: Fox News’ Lachlan Murdoch sues indie news outlet for defamation

FREE SPEECH CHALLENGE: Fox News' Lachlan Murdoch sues indie news outlet for defamation

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The independent Australian news outlet Crikey just published an open letter to Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch after the far-right propaganda pusher accused Crikey of defamation. Attorneys for Lachlan Murdoch claim that an op-ed published in the independent publication in July unfairly tied Fox News and the Murdoch family to the events of Jan. 6th.

On Crikey’s website, Editor-in-Chief Peter Fray writes:

“On June 29, we published an article that dared to mention the word ‘Murdoch’ in relation to Trump, Fox News, and the January 6 Capitol riot. Lachlan Murdoch alleges that the article defamed him, so he’s threatening to sue us.”

“What now? We fight. We are sick of being intimidated by him because independence means that we have the right, to tell the truth.”

Just days after the explosive testimony of former senior White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, Crikey published an opinion article about the relationship between Fox News, Donald Trump, and the media outlet’s role in aiding an attempted coup – prompting Lachlan Murdoch to threaten the independent news source.

In the article, titled: Trump is a confirmed unhinged traitor. And Murdoch is his unindicted co-conspirator” author and politics editor Bernard Keane wrote:

“If Trump ends up in the dock for a variety of crimes committed as president, as he should be, not all his co-conspirators will be there with him. Nixon was famously the “unindicted co-conspirator” in Watergate. The Murdochs and their slew of poisonous Fox News commentators are the unindicted co-conspirators of this continuing crisis.”

Keane pushed back on comparisons between Richard Nixon and Donald Trump, pointing out that “Nixon didn’t have the support of the world’s most powerful media company, which continues — even in the face of mountains of evidence of Trump’s treachery and crimes — to peddle the lie of the stolen election and play down the insurrection Trump created.”

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The day after the article was published, John Churchill sent a letter on behalf of Lachlan Murdoch addressed to Fray and Keane saying that Crikey’s publication of the article and corresponding social media posts on Facebook and Twitter were “indefensible,” and “The imputations are false and are calculated to harm Mr. Murdoch, both personally and professionally and should don’t have been published.”

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Churchill not only demanded the article be deleted immediately but crafted an apology to his boss:

APOLOGY TO LACHLAN MURDOCH

“On 29 June 2022, Crikey and Mr. Keane published an article and social media posts about Lachlan Murdoch. Crikey and Mr. Keane accept that the claims made in the article and other publications were false and defamatory of him. They were baseless allegations that should never have been made. Crikey and Mr. Keane unconditionally withdraw the claims and apologies to Mr. Lachlan for the hurt and offence caused to him by reason of the publication and the social media tweets and posts (the apology).”

Crikey and its editors responded to Murdoch and his attorneys, publishing an open letter to the media mogul:

For decades the Murdochs have asserted a commitment to “free speech” and the importance of disagreeing voices in the media sphere. However, attempting to silence a dissenting voice contradicts the claims that the Fox News empire was built on a commitment to the “fair and balanced.” Apparently, that Murdoch privilege is reserved for gaslighting and right-wing propaganda – those spreading truth need not apply.

Read the letter from Murdoch’s representative here.

Original reporting by Eric Beecher and Peter Fray at Crikey.

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

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