Lachlan Murdoch dismisses 'noise' surrounding Dominion lawsuit against Fox News

"This case is actually not about the law, and it's not about journalism," Fox Corp.'s chief executive said Thursday. "It's really about politics."

Lachlan Murdoch, co-chairman and chief executive officer of Fox Corp., attends the annual Sun Valley media conference in Idaho, July 11, 2019.
Lachlan Murdoch, co-chairman and chief executive officer of Fox Corp., at the Sun Valley media conference in Idaho in 2019. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

In his first public comments since the recent bombshell revelations in the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems, Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch defended the cable news network Thursday and dismissed the headlines surrounding the highly watched case.

“A news organization has an obligation, and it is an obligation to report news fulsomely, wholesomely and without fear or favor,” Murdoch said at a Morgan Stanley investor conference in San Francisco. “And that's what Fox News has always done, and that's what Fox News will always do.

“I think a lot of the noise that you hear about this case is actually not about the law, and it's not about journalism,” he added. “It's really about politics, right? And that's unfortunately more reflective of just the sort of polarized society that we live in today.”

Fox News headquarters in New York City on March 4.
Fox News headquarters in New York City on March 4. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

In court filings made public over the past few weeks, Dominion has laid out a trove of evidence — including deposition transcripts, email and text records — revealing that, in the days and weeks after the 2020 election, high-ranking Fox executives and on-air stars were aware that the election conspiracy theories touted by then-President Donald Trump and his allies were bogus even as they repeatedly broadcast the false claims.

“We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights,” primetime host Tucker Carlson texted a colleague on Jan. 4, 2021, two days before the attack on the Capitol while Congress was convening to certify Joe Biden’s victory. “I truly can’t wait.”

Referring to Trump, Carlson added: “I hate him passionately.”

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The communications are part of Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox News, originally filed last year, which seeks to prove that the network either knew the statements it aired were false or recklessly disregarded their accuracy. The trial is scheduled to begin on April 17.

Attorneys for Fox have said the network was simply “reporting on one of the biggest stories of the day” — allegations by the sitting president of the United States that the 2020 election was fraudulent.

“There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion,” Fox News said in a statement last month, “but the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution.”

“The very fact of those allegations was newsworthy,” the cable news giant’s attorneys wrote in a counterclaim.

Fox News' New York offices.
Fox News' New York offices. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Private communications from Lachlan Murdoch and his father, Rupert, Fox's chairman and founder, were also among those unsealed in court.

In a series of election-night messages, Lachlan Murdoch appeared to be rooting hard for a Trump victory.

Responding to a suggestion by Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott that Trump might win despite a historic popular-vote loss, Lachlan Murdoch responded, “If that happens, god willing, we will have to defend the electoral college aggressively.”

Rupert Murdoch, however, appeared to quickly tire of Trump’s baseless fraud claims.

After watching Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, at a post-election news conference, the elder Murdoch described both as “increasingly mad,” and added: “The real danger is what [Trump] might do as president.”

“In another month Trump will be becoming irrelevant,” Murdoch wrote in an email on Nov. 23, 2020. “And we'll have lots to say about Biden, Dems, and appointments.”