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Saturday 4 April 2020

Murdoch Facing Covid-19 Lawsuit Armageddon

If Rupert Murdoch and his fellow mafiosi thought that the sums being paid out to those alleging phone hacking and other acts of illegal data gathering by the Sun, and the late and not at all lamented Screws, were big money, they were disabused of that thought this week as the very real prospect of Stateside lawsuits came into view.
What worries the Murdochs is that coverage of the Coronavirus pandemic by Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) may end up with FNC being sued for pushing misinformation - that ends up killing people. And no-one pushes misinformation quite like FNC. The warnings came early last week. And now the first lawsuit has been filed.

The Times of San Diego has reported thatAn obscure Washington state group has become the first in the nation to sue Fox News over its coronavirus coverage, asking a state court to keep the cable network from airing false information about the pandemic … The 10-page complaint - filed Thursday in King County - also names as defendants Fox News Corp., owner Rupert Murdoch, AT&T TV and COMCAST”. What does it cite?
The WASHLITE suit includes a request for relief under the state’s Consumer Protection Act, alleging Fox News violated the act by ‘falsely and deceptively disseminating “News” via cable news contracts that the coronavirus was a “hoax,” and that it was otherwise not a danger to public health and safety’ … In March 9 broadcasts by Sean Hannity and Trish Regan, ‘defendants acted in bad faith to willfully and maliciously disseminate false information denying and minimizing the danger posed by the spread of the novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, which is now recognized as an international pandemic’”.

It might not help FNC’s case that the network subsequently fired Trish Regan. As to claims that the lawsuit was trying to stifle First Amendment rights, a spokesman for the plaintiffs responded “It’s like the theater thing … Up to the point where you get up in the theater and yell ‘Fire!’ you can say whatever you want. But when you get to the point where you are endangering the community - that transcends the limits of the First Amendment”.
As Gabe Sherman of Vanity Fair put it, “Fox News tried to do their original playbook, which was dismiss it as a hoax, say that this is another partisan attempt by Democrats to hurt Donald Trump, and this was the case where they could not prevent reality. Fox News is a very powerful media organization, but it cannot stop people from dropping dead”.

There was more: “there's a real concern inside the network that their early downplaying of the coronavirus actually exposes Fox News to potential legal action by viewers who maybe were misled and actually have died from this … [the Murdochs have] taken personal steps to protect themselves while anchors like Trish Regan and Sean Hannity were telling viewers that it's a hoax”. Media Matters’ overview of FNC’s Covid-19 stories is HERE.
Observing Sherman’s take, a Community contributor to the Daily Kos mused “If the Murdochs let this deadly vaudeville act go on while knowing how serious the COVID-19 threat really was, maybe they could be sued … class-action suit, anyone?” Well, now they have been sued. And from the acorn that is the WASHLITE suit, a mighty class action oak could soon be growing. An action that will make phone hacking seem very small beer.

Fox News has been propagandising for years. Now comes the payback.
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3301 said...

Yes. We know Tim.

Guido won't shut up about it...

rob said...

And a Dixon of Dock Green namesake may be bringing further trouble to Fox, re the FIFA bribery scandal, from law enforcement authorities in the US.