Crikey: Small independent news website challenges Lachlan Murdoch to defamation lawsuit | Lachlan Murdoch

A small independent news website in Australia is taking on the Murdoch empire, buying a full-page ad in the New York Times. Lachlan Murdoch They should be sued for defamation.

There is an obvious comment on the controversy, and related social media posts, Crikey.com.au published in June: “Trump is an unconfirmed traitor. And Murdoch is his unindicted co-conspirator” – analyzing the Jan. 6 uprising by supporters of defeated presidential candidate Donald Trump. Crikey published legal In the letters, Lachlan Murdoch’s lawyers argue that the publications contain “defamatory allegations of criminal conduct and conspiracy” and “highly defamatory and false allegations about him”.

A June 29 piece by Crikey’s political editor Bernard Keane mentions Murdoch by name twice: in the title and closing paragraphs.

The article is largely concerned with testimony given by former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchison to the US House Select Committee on the January 6 attacks. Hutchison did not mention Murdoch in his testimony.

After discussing the continuing spread of the “big lie” that Trump won the 2020 US presidential election — he lost the Electoral College vote 306 to 232, and the popular vote by 7 million votes — Keane argues that “the most powerful media organization in the world” continues to spread the lie that the election was stolen. And play down the agitation Trump has created.

Keane argued that former US President Richard Nixon was an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Watergate scandal, and drew an analogy that “the Murdochs and their venomous Fox News commentators were unindicted co-conspirators” in the events of January 6.

The piece does not specifically name Lachlan Murdoch.

In letters sent to Crikey on Monday afternoon and published by the Independent News site, lawyers for Lachlan Murdoch, the eldest son of patriarch Rupert and chief executive of Fox Corporation, argued that he was personally identified by the article and that he was defamed. They allege that the publication of the article was “malicious” and “manifestly indefensible”.

“The allegations are false and calculated to harm Mr Murdoch personally and professionally and should not have been published,” the initial statement of concern said.

The 14-count article allegedly charged: “Mr Murdoch: unlawfully conspired with Donald Trump to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election; … illegally conspiring with Donald Trump to incite a mob with murderous intent to march on the Capitol; … was a co-conspirator with Donald Trump to change the outcome of the 2020 election; has conspired with Donald Trump to commit treason against the United States to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election; …to be charged with the crime of being a traitor to the United States…”

Nine more allegations were allegedly made through Facebook posts and tweets.

Through its lawyers, Crikey responded that the article made no mention of Lachlan Murdoch and that the threatened defamation action would “fail”.

“For example, there can be no plausible argument that the article suggests that your client was involved in a conspiracy to incite a mob with murderous intent or that he knew how armed the participants in the riot would be,” Kriegy said. “Such an allegation rests upon a grossly distorted and distorted interpretation of the words of the article.”

In response to the initial complaint, Crikey initially agreed to remove the piece from its website and deleted the related tweet and Facebook post – but after failing to reach an agreement, put the piece back live.

In detailed legal correspondence released by Kriegy, the news website refused to apologise, but did not republish the original article, offered to pay Murdoch’s reasonable legal fees and publish an “editorial statement”. Murdock.

The proposed report repeated the controversial passages regarding the Murdoch family and detailed a full list of defamatory allegations made by Murdoch. The proposed statement said Crieke did not agree with what the original article alleged: “There is no evidence that Mr Murdoch did any of the things described above. Cricky didn’t say that [Murdoch] Did any of them.”

“Mr Murdoch bears some responsibility for the events of January 6th because of the actions of Fox News, the network he leads. However, as the material described above suggests, Chricke does not believe he was actively involved in the events of that day.

A proposal to release an editorial statement was rejected by Murdoch’s lawyers.

“It should be clear that the reference to Mr Murdoch in the article was unfair and should not have happened. “The available inference is that Crikey is trying to increase his readership by making baseless ‘headline’ allegations about my client,” the lawyers said.

Crickey’s open letter, published as an advertisement in the New York Times and Canberra Times, said: “At Cricci we strongly support freedom of expression and public interest journalism.”

“We intend to defend those allegations in court. You have made it clear in your legal letters that you intend to take legal action to address this defamation.

“We await your writ so that we can examine this important issue of public interest journalistic freedom in a courtroom.”

One of Crickey’s legal briefs quoted Murdoch’s own words, a 2014 Keith Murdoch Oration (Keith Murdoch is his grandfather), in which he argued that “a free media must depend on no one for favors” and that censorship of any kind “corrupts our freedom.” To know, be informed and make informed decisions in our society and in our democracy”.

Crikey’s editor-in-chief Peter Frey told the Guardian that his organization supported Keane’s statement, adding that defamation laws are used in Australia to silence the media and stifle legitimate and substantive debate.

“We have to ask: What’s going on here?” Frey said. “What’s happening is that these laws are being used to stop a proper news analysis linking Fox’s actions to what happened in Washington DC on January 6th, and that’s exactly what’s happening.”

A spokesman for Murdoch declined to comment.

In letters published by Crikey, Murdoch’s lawyers rejected Crikey’s claims, saying, “The article is ‘not a legitimate exercise of freedom of the press and freedom of speech’ and is of ‘significant public importance.’ This is an example of Crickey reporting on a topic (evidence on Trump to House Select Committee) and dragging Mr Murdoch into a quagmire of allegations about the former president by association.

They say Murdoch “didn’t seek to dictate stories” and “raised complaints only when the wrongdoings were egregious”. He was never unreasonable or intimidating”.

Murdoch wants to resolve the issue “as he has successfully done with Crickey in the past … the only issue between the parties is a genuine apology”.

Crickey and the Murdocks have form.

In April last year, Crikey retracted an article written by the site’s founder, Stephen Mayne, which made a series of claims about Lachlan Murdoch’s time on the Channel Ten board. The article was found to contain a series of inaccuracies, and Crikey admitted that “Keep the current apology on the homepage for 14 days”.

In September 2020, Chriqui was also forced to apologize likens Murdoch to an organized crime boss.

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