Oregon sues Fox News over false election claims, retirement fund losses
(Washington State Standard) Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is suing Fox Corporation, alleging that false claims about the 2020 election broadcast on Fox News caused losses to the state’s employee retirement funds.
Rosenblum and Treasurer Tobias Read, who oversees state investment accounts, began investigating Fox and preparing for a lawsuit in June. Their suit, filed Tuesday in the Delaware Chancery Court alongside the New York City Pension Funds, alleges that Fox knew its employees were broadcasting political claims without regard for truth and made no good-faith efforts to monitor or mitigate defamation risk, unlike almost every other news organization in the country.
“The board of Fox Corporation took a massive risk in pursuing profits by perpetuating and peddling known falsehoods,” Rosenblum said in a statement. “The directors’ choices exposed themselves and the company to liability and exposed their shareholders to significant risks. That is the crux of our lawsuit, and we look forward to making our case in court.”
Fox had to pay out nearly $800 million to Dominion Voting Systems in an April settlement in a defamation case. Another voting machine company, Smartmatic, has an ongoing lawsuit against Fox and is seeking $2.7 billion in damages.
As of December 2022, about $11.7 million of Oregon’s $92 billion in state retirement funds were invested with Fox Corporation. That figure dipped substantially over the past several months, and Oregon now holds shares of Fox stocks worth approximately $5.2 million, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
The complaint also notes a 2020 settlement with the parents of Seth Rich, a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer. Fox News baselessly reported, and later retracted, an article claiming Rich leaked emails to WikiLeaks and was murdered for it.
Read said in a statement that the suit is necessary to fulfill the state’s obligations to retired public employees.
“Our responsibility to safeguard the retirement investments of Oregon’s public servants is of the utmost importance,” he said. “We aim to hold Fox’s board of directors, including Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, accountable for their decisions.”
It isn’t the state’s first lawsuit over a company’s business practices harming retirement funds. In 2021, Rosenblum and Read settled with L Brands, then the owner of Victoria’s Secret, in a similar lawsuit over the company failing to investigate its CEO’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein and ignoring a culture of sexual harassment. L Brands committed $90 million to protect employees from harassment and pledged to release former employees from nondisclosure agreements as part of that settlement.