Washington Nonprofit Files Lawsuit Against Fox News for Coverage of Coronavirus

The reviews of Fox News’ reporting on the coronavirus crisis are not getting any better.

A Washington state nonprofit, the Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics, has filed a lawsuit against the network for violating the Consumer Protection Act.

“The CPA declares unlawful and prohibits deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce,” the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit alleges Fox News knowingly disseminated misleading information regarding the coronavirus.

Attorney Liz Hallock, representing WASHLITE, made a statement during an interview with The Seattle Times.

“We are not trying to chill free speech here. But we believe the public was endangered by false and deceptive communications in the stream of commerce,” Hallock said.

She added. “There are a lot of people who listen to Fox News, and they’re not taking the recommendations of public-health officials seriously. This is not about money; it’s about making sure the public gets the message this is not a hoax.”

This is not the first time Fox News has received backlash for its coverage. More than 70 journalism professors and journalists penned a letter to Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch also accusing the network of spreading misinformation, as IJR previously reported.

The lawsuit goes on to explain how the coverage has interfered with the implementation of measures to help stop the spread of the virus. It also points out how the public has become ignorant of the way the virus spreads and its damaging effects.

The nonprofit points out how Fox News’ coverage has damaged the organization as one of its members has contracted the coronavirus.

The lawsuit suggests the misinformed public is taking risks and ignoring the seriousness of the virus. The public has also allegedly been deprived of the information needed to stop the spread of the coronavirus across the state.

It calls the network’s information “a serious public health issue.”

Lily Fu Claffee, general counsel for FOX News Media, reacted to the lawsuit.

“Wrong on the facts, frivolous on the law. We will defend vigorously and seek sanctions as appropriate,” Claffee told Times of San Diego.

WASHLITE alleges Fox News called the coronavirus a hoax and is calling on the network to retract the rhetoric.

“Defendants are thus liable for declaratory and injunctive relief and other appropriate relief under the CPA, as detailed herein,” the lawsuit reads. “Additionally, Plaintiffs seek a formal, clear and ringing retraction of Defendants’ representations that the virus is a hoax.”

Speaking about accusations in the letter penned by the journalism professors, Fox News’ Sean Hannity told Newsweek that he “never” called the virus a “hoax.”

“I never called it a ‘hoax.’ I said it was a hoax for them to be using it as a bludgeon on Trump,” he said.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated for clarity after publication.

Responses

  1. Why is everyone focused on how people used the word hoax? That us irrelevant. The meat of the argument from the article is the following (and the allegations are true, just not sure Fox can be held liable):

    The lawsuit goes on to explain how the coverage has interfered with the implementation of measures to help stop the spread of the virus. It also points out how the public has become ignorant of the way the virus spreads and its damaging effects.

    The nonprofit points out how Fox News’ coverage has damaged the organization as one of its members has contracted the coronavirus.

    The lawsuit suggests the misinformed public is taking risks and ignoring the seriousness of the virus. The public has also allegedly been deprived of the information needed to stop the spread of the coronavirus across the state.

    It calls the network’s information “a serious public health issue.”

    1. “Why is everyone focused on how people used the word hoax? That us(sic) irrelevant”. Since the whole case boils down to the use of the word “hoax”, only a mental midget would make an asinine statement like you just made. “and the allegations are true”, another FALSE statement from a liberal who has NO evidence Fox did anything but actually report the seriousness of this virus long before anybody from msm did. Please don’t try to use the clip of Hannity that the left-wing media has used over and over again to try to back up their claims. A clip that cut off Hannity in mid sentence and, when played in it’s entirety, absolutely refutes any claim that he called the virus a “hoax”.

      1. Excellent response to the same old twists the liberals put on anything with which they disagree. Their belief is that only their opinions and hate matters.

    1. Too bad you and michael NEVER have any good days that would give us hope that you two have actually pulled your head out before you comment.

  2. ““Wrong on the facts, frivolous on the law”. Pretty much describes CNN, PMSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC and NPR to a tee. When is somebody gonna hold deblasio, oxiris barbot, john liu and brian kavanaugh accountable for the really rotten advice they gave New Yorkers. As late as March 14, they were telling New Yorkers they had nothing to worry about from this virus, to go about their daily lives with no reservations. And cuomo and defakio have the unmitigated impudence to blame Trump for New York’s problems with this virus.

  3. No one claimed the virus was a ‘hoax’.
    They were referring to actions like this by WASHLITE to use the virus as a weapon against Trump.

  4. If this is allowed to go through we really need to go after CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, etc. For hiding and falsely reporting on the same. Publicity stunt and damaging, just like so much of what the rest of the press has done.

      1. I agree whole heartedly that the earlier comments are correct. Fox News did call actions by the House Leadership an attempt to perpetrate a hoax but never called COVID-19 a hoax.
        This is apparently a partisan group and not a 5.01.C3 . Maybe a 5.01.C4 hoping for publicity?

Comments are closed.