Thu, Sep 14, 2023 1:04 PM
By Tom Joyce, The Center Square
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum filed a stockholder derivative lawsuit against the board of directors of Fox Corporation this week.
Rosenblum filed the suit against the corporate parent of Fox News for breach of fiduciary duty because the Oregon Public Employee Retirement Fund is a Fox investor.
The Attorney General is representing the fund and Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read, whose office partnered in the investigation into Fox.
“The board of Fox Corporation took a massive risk in pursuing profits by perpetuating and peddling known falsehoods," Rosenblum said in a release. “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.”
A joint investigation conducted by the Oregon Department of Justice and Oregon Treasurer’s Office earlier this year concluded that Fox's management hurt investors, including Oregon's public employees, with its actions.
As of the end of August, the state held 150,146 shares of Fox Class A stock and 76,169 shares of Fox Class B stock worth about $5.2 million.
Filed in Delaware Chancery Court this week, the lawsuit alleges that Fox’s Board knew that Fox News promoted lies without regard for whether they would result in defamation charges.
The Board at Fox should have been more sensitive to the defamation risks the company faced, the release said. It cites examples of false news reported on Fox News, including that murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich provided hacked emails to WikiLeaks and claims that election technology companies U.S. Dominion, Inc. and Smartmatic USA Corp. rigged the 2020 presidential election in favor of President Joe Biden.
The lawsuit said Fox did not make a good-faith effort to monitor or mitigate defamation risk, unlike other major media organizations in America.
“Our responsibility to safeguard the retirement investments of Oregon’s public servants is of the utmost importance,” Treasurer Tobias Read, a member of the Oregon Investment Council, said. “We aim to hold Fox’s board of directors, including Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, accountable for their decisions. We believe that this action is necessary in fulfilling our obligation to our beneficiaries.”