Billionaires silence critics with lawsuits but hide behind ‘Freedom of the Press’ to cover the lies they broadcast themselves.
“Dominion Voting systems has sued Fox News for $1.6 billion. Fox News news producer warned not to let host Jeanine Pirro back on the air. She is pulling conspiracy theories from dark corners of the Web to justify then-President Donald Trump’s lies that the election had been stolen from him. Other prominent Fox stars heavily promoted them In the weeks after Election Day 2020,.” – WSHU
Billionaires use lawsuits to silence their critics. Peter Thiel funded a lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker Media after it disclosed his sexual identity. Fox News host Eric Bolling sued reporter Yashar Ali for defamation following a story alleging he sent lewd, unsolicited text messages. (HuffPo).
Should billionaires be allowed to spread conspiracy theories that undermine democracy and promote violence? Should the same laws that billionaires like Thiel use to bankrupt media outlets that criticize them, also be used to punish billionaire owned media outlets like FOX News that spread disinformation? Start following the money behind this double standard with this relationship map.
How billionaires silence critics
A 2007 article published by Gawker’s Valleywag blog was headlined, “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people.” That and a series of articles about his friends and others that he said “ruined people’s lives for no reason” drove Mr. Thiel to mount a clandestine war against Gawker. He funded a team of lawyers to find and help “victims” of the company’s coverage mount cases against Gawker.
The wrestler Hulk Hogan sued Gawker Media for invasion of privacy after it published a sex tape, and a Florida jury recently awarded the wrestler, whose real name is Terry Gene Bollea, $140 million. (This forced Gawker into bankruptcy.) Mr. Bollea had a secret benefactor paying about $10 million for the lawsuit: Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and one of the earliest investors in Facebook.
“I am troubled by Thiel,” Roy D. Simon, a professor emeritus of legal ethics at Hofstra University School of Law said. “I guess that one guy is much more likely to have an agenda driven by revenge or personal dislike or wanting to prove a point.” – NY Times
How billionaires spread lies that hurt people to sell more ads and push their own political agenda
NewsMax is owned and run by Christopher Ruddy, a close friend of Trump’s. It settles a defamation lawsuit from Eric Coomer, a Dominion executive at the center of election conspiracy theories and issued an apology. The lawsuit, filed by Dominion’s head of product strategy and security Eric Coomer, is among several filed over false claims that election technology companies like Dominion rigged the election against former president Donald Trump and in favor of President Joe Biden.
Newsmax issued a retraction and apology on its website saying it found “no evidence” that earlier claims about Coomer and the 2020 election were true. “There are several facts that our viewers should be aware of. Newsmax has found no evidence that Dr. Coomer interfered with Dominion voting machines or voting software in any way, nor that Dr. Coomer ever claimed to have done so,” the statement reads. “Nor has Newsmax found any evidence that Dr. Coomer ever participated in any conversation with members of ‘Antifa,’ nor that he was directly involved with any partisan political organization.” – Yahoo/Business Insider
Coomer went into hiding after receiving death threats over the conspiracies
Coomer first became the subject of conspiracy theories after Joe Oltmann, a right-wing political operative, claimed without evidence that he was a member of “Antifa” – a loosely linked group of left-wing activists who oppose fascist movements – and worked to rig the 2020 election. Numerous lawsuits, recounts, and investigations have turned up no widespread evidence of irregularities in the 2020 election.
Oltmann’s baseless claims spread like wildfire in right-wing media circles, and Coomer went into hiding after receiving numerous death threats. Coomer sued more than a dozen right-wing media figures he claims were responsible for pushing the conspiracy theories. He alleged defamation, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and civil conspiracy over the claims. – Yahoo/Business Insider
Will spread lies to sell more ads
“In the $1.6bn lawsuit, Dominion accuses Fox Corp, and the Murdochs specifically, of allowing Fox News to amplify false claims that the voting company had rigged the election for Joe Biden. Dominion Voting Systems, which provided voting machines to 28 states, was given the go-ahead to sue Fox Corp, the parent company of Fox News, in a case that could draw Rupert Murdoch and his son, Lachlan, into the spotlight.
“These allegations support a reasonable inference that Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch either knew Dominion had not manipulated the election or at least recklessly disregarded the truth when they allegedly caused Fox News to propagate its claims about Dominion,” Judge Eric Davis said.
“The reason Dominion is suing is because Fox and other rightwing news outlets repeated vicious lies that Dominion’s voting machines stole the 2020 election from Trump for Biden. But all of these conspiracy theories about Dominion’s machines were just pure bunk, and Fox as a news organization should have known that and not given this aspect of the big lie a megaphone. “What’s particularly bad for Fox is [that] Dominion asked them to stop and correct the record in real time, and Fox persisted in spreading misrepresentations about the voting machine company.” – The Guardian
Barrage of lies
“The defendants in today’s filings recklessly disregarded the truth when they spread lies in November and continue to do so today. We are filing these three cases today because the defendants named show no remorse, nor any sign they intend to stop spreading disinformation. This barrage of lies by the defendants and others have caused — and continue to cause — severe damage to our company, customers, and employees. We have no choice but to seek to hold those responsible to account”, said John Poulos, Dominion CEO. – The Wrap
TakeAway: Stop billionaires’ double standard of shutting down media outlets that criticize them, but broadcasting lies through their own channels.
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Reposted from Democracy Labs with permission.
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