Oregon’s attorney general has launched an investigation into the Fox Corporation board of directors over their responsibility for Fox News’ airing of false election claims after the 2020 presidential election. That led to Fox’s $787.5 million settlement in April of a case brought by Dominion Voting Systems.
Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, representing the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund, said that the investigation would explore a potential shareholder suit against the board.
“We hope to hold the board accountable and protect the long-term value of Oregon’s investment in Fox Corp.,” Rosenblum said in a statement.
State Treasurer Tobias Read, a member of the Oregon Investment Council, also will take part in the investigation. “Investigating Fox’s books and records is a necessary and significant step in fulfilling our obligation to our beneficiaries,” Reed said in a statement. Rosenblum and Read are both Democrats.
Rosenblum’s office said that the Fox directors and senior officers “have a duty to manage the company competently, honestly, and in a manner that prevents foreseeable and catastrophic financial harm like that inflicted upon company’s shareholders by the Dominion and Smartmatic suits.”
A Fox Corp. spokesperson said that they have no comment.
Fox News and Fox Corp. were sued by Dominion Voting Systems for $1.6 billion in 2021. The election systems company claimed that its reputation was harmed as the network aired false claims that it was responsible for rigging the 2020 presidential election. The case was set to go to trial in Delaware Superior Court in April, but was settled just after a jury was seated.
Fox has defended the airing of the false election claims, arguing that it was covering the newsworthy allegations from then-President Donald Trump and his allies. But in a pre-trial summary judgment decision, Judge Eric M. Davis rejected newsworthiness as a defense.
Last month, Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch said at an investor conference that had the Dominion case gone forward, “we were going to be in a multi-year, prolonged legal battle, which we would ultimately win, but the distraction to the company, the distraction to our growth plans, our management, would have been extraordinarily costly, which is why we decided to settle.” He said that it was a “difficult decision to make but ultimately the right decision, because I don’t believe Fox News or any of our hosts engaged in any defamation the whole period.”
Fox also faces a lawsuit from another election systems company, Smartmatic, in a New York court. That case is still in the discovery phase.