Lachlan Murdoch is the son ofmedia mogul Rupert Murdoch and is currently the chairman and CEO of Fox Corporation, Co-Chairman of News Corp and Executive Chairman of NOVA Entertainment. Mr. Murdoch also previously served as Non-Executive Chairman of the Ten Network and was instrumental in the acquisition of REA Group. He has recently been involved in several legal proceedings, including as a defendant alongside his father in two cases by voting machine makers.
Voting Machines v The Fox Network
Mr. Murdoch and his father, Rupert Murdoch, were defendants in a $1.6 billion lawsuit filed by voting machine maker, Dominion, in March of 2021. Fox News was accused of knowingly and maliciously suggesting Dominion had engaged in election fraud against Donald Trump. Furthermore, Lachlan Murdoch specifically was accused of directing Fox News and its hosts to make unsubstantiated and defamatory statements about Dominion. The case was settled for $787.5 million in April of 2023, a week before Dominion’s legal team was reportedly intending on calling Rupert Murdoch to the stand.
Similarly, Smartmatic sued the Murdochs for $2.7 billion in February of 2021 claiming that Fox News “engaged in a conspiracy to spread disinformation about Smartmatic,” and that the network and its hosts and commentators “lied, and they did so knowingly and intentionally.” As of April 2023 this case is still in the discovery phase.
Murdoch v Private Media (Crikey)
In August of 2022, Mr. Murdoch filed a defamation suit against Private Media, the parent entity of Crikey. The case was with reference to an article published by Crikey which argued that a “slew of poisonous Fox News commentators” contributed to encouraging the Capitol Hill rioters during the January 6th Capitol Hill Riot. Furthermore, the article claimed that the Murdoch family (referred to as “the murdochs” was an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the event.
Crikey initially took down the article but after receiving several legal threats, the article was republished with Crikey’s head editor, Peter Fray, claiming that Mr. Murdoch was “using the law to silence public debate” and “seeking to intimidate us.”
Mr. Murdoch went on to accuse Crikey of utilising his legal threat to attract subscribers to their website by virtue of their near $100,000 advertisement in the New York Times challenging Mr. Murdoch to sue. Crikey’s defence team have responded that neither Mr. Murdoch nor any other members of the Murdoch family have repudiated the claims made on Fox News. In December of 2022 Mr. Murdoch also sought to draw the head of Private Media, Eric Beecher, into the suit.
Mr. Murdoch discontinued the suit in April of 2023, days after Fox News settled a defamation case in the United States brought against them by Dominion Voting Systems. Dr. Michael Douglas, a senior lecturer at the University of Western Australia Law School, stated at the time that “it makes sense” for Mr. Murdoch to want to close the Crikey defamation case soon after the Dominion case.
Dr. Douglas suggested that if the Crikey case in Australia were to continue, some evidence from the US Dominion case would again be made public “in all its gory detail, potentially including through cross-examination of Lachlan Murdoch himself.”
In August of 2023 Mr. Murdoch announced that he would pay Crikey $1.3 million in legal fees, on the condition that Crikey donated the full amount of their crowdfunding campaign to the Alliance for Journalists' Freedom.