SYDNEY – Fox Corp. chief executive Lachlan Murdoch is suing Australian news site Crikey in a Sydney court for defamation over an opinion piece about the storming of the US Capitol last year.
The son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch filed a statement in federal court on Tuesday, a day after publisher Crikey Private Media chairman Eric Beecher and editor Peter Fray put their names in an ad for the New York Times inviting Lachlan Murdoch to sue.
“We await your subpoena so that we can test this important issue of freedom of public interest journalism in a courtroom,” the two media executives said in an open letter to Lachlan Murdoch, which was also released on Tuesday. in the Australian newspaper The Canberra Times.
Murdoch is suing Private Media, a private company, Fray, who is also the website’s editor, and Crikey’s political editor, Bernard Keane.
Murdoch claims to have been defamed by Keane’s column of the US Congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection that Crikey published on June 29 under the headlines: “Trump is a confirmed unhinged traitor.” And Murdoch is his unindicted co-conspirator.
US cable news giant Fox News is accused in lawsuits filed in the US of spreading false allegations linking two election tech companies, Dominion and Smartmatic, to a conspiracy to steal votes from the former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, won by President Joe Biden.
Crikey said he welcomed Murdoch’s action. “Crikey will not be silenced,” the statement released Wednesday read.
Lachlan Murdoch’s office confirmed the defamation suit had been filed but declined to comment further.
Private Media chief executive Will Hayward said in a statement: “We are committed to fighting for the integrity and importance of diverse and independent media in Australian democracy.”
No hearing date has yet been set. Murdoch did not offer a sum of money if he were to obtain damages in court.
Crikey removed the contentious article from his website when he received a letter from Murdoch’s attorneys a day after the article was published. After further letters between lawyers, Crikey republished the article last week.
Crikey attracts an audience of at least 175,000 unique readers per month and has at least 15,000 paying subscribers, according to court documents.
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