New York City’s pension funds and the State of Oregon are suing Fox Corp., alleging the company harmed investors by allowing Fox News to broadcast falsehoods about the 2020 U.S. presidential election that exposed the network to defamation lawsuits, according to a report by the New York Times.
The lawsuit, which didn’t specify the damages being sought, accuses Fox of trying to appease its viewers following the election by amplifying false claims that voting had been rigged and that Fox’s board of directors had known there was a risk of defamation litigation but “consciously disregarded” it.
As of July 31, New York City’s five pension funds — the Board of Education Retirement System, the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, the New York City Fire Pension Fund, the New York City Police Pension Fund and the Teachers’ Retirement System — held roughly 857,000 shares in Fox, valued at US$28.1 million. As of Aug. 31, the Oregon Public Employee Retirement Fund held roughly 226,000 shares, worth around $5.2 million.
“We are shareholders at a company that, unfortunately, has a longstanding practice of allowing conspiracy theories that its executives and its board know are false to be repeated over and over and over again, despite the very clear and present risk of defamation lawsuits eroding shareholder value,” said Brad Lander, New York City’s comptroller and who oversees the pension funds, in the report. “And there has been no effort to make governance reforms.”
The lawsuit is the most significant shareholder action since Fox settled a blockbuster defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems Corp. last April for $787.5 million, said the report.