Media mogul sues publication of ‘baseless’ article
In the article, which was widely shared on social media, Keane called the former US president a “traitor” and “unbalanced traitor” and suggested that the Murdoch family, which owns and controls Fox News, was a “unindicted co-conspirator”.
Although the article does not mention Lachlan Murdoch by name, instead referring to the Murdoch family, the CEO and executive chairman of Fox claims he has been defamed and suffered serious reputational damage.
“Murdoch has been seriously injured in his character, personal reputation and professional reputation as a businessman and corporate director and has suffered and will continue to suffer significant injury, distress and embarrassment” , indicate the documents he filed with the court.
The lawsuit targets the publisher behind the Crikey masthead, Private Media, as well as Keane and editor Peter Fray.
Murdoch, who retained top libel lawyer Sue Chrysanthou SC in the lawsuit, is seeking aggravated damages.
He claims that Private Media acted maliciously and engaged in a “dishonest promotional campaign” to increase subscriber numbers by making false claims he intimidated and threatened about the article.
According to court documents, the article was defamatory by falsely claiming that Murdoch participated in an illegal criminal conspiracy with Trump to nullify the 2020 U.S. presidential election and incite a mob with murderous intent to march on Capitol Hill.
Crikey has since written numerous other articles about Murdoch, January 6 and the then impending legal action, openly publishing all the letters sent between Fox CEO John Churchill’s attorney and Private Media lawyers at MinterEllison.
Murdoch said he was not approached for comment until after the June 29 article and related articles published afterward on the Crikey website and had only complained to the private media four times in five years.
He is also seeking injunctions prohibiting the publication and promotion of the allegedly defamatory articles.
In a statement on its website, Crikey said he welcomed Murdoch’s trial.
“For nearly two months Crikey faced the threat of legal action from Lachlan Murdoch over an article about Fox News, Donald Trump and the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington. Last night, Lachlan Murdoch finally issued his warrant. We welcome this,” the firm wrote.
Private Media CEO Will Hayward tweeted Wednesday that Murdoch had “unleashed his legal and financial strength” against the publisher.
“We are determined to fight for our role as reporters in covering important events – in fact, what we published was mediocre compared to hundreds of articles and commentaries about the role of Fox News and the Murdochs in the States States (where, as public figures, they cannot sue for defamation).”
Hayward said Crikey could be liable for millions of dollars in damages and legal fees as a result of the lawsuit.