The Internet & Television Association (NCTA) that represents major networks backed Fox News in a lawsuit that accused the network of posing a threat to public health, according to a briefing filed Monday.
The NCTA, along with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, filed an amicus brief in support of Fox News’s request to dismiss a lawsuit, which was filed by the nonprofit group Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics last month.
The nonprofit’s lawsuit alleges the network’s opinion hosts downplayed the coronavirus pandemic, putting people in danger as COVID-19 spread throughout the nation.
The NCTA and Reporters Committee argued in the brief obtained by The Hill that the news network retains its First Amendment rights in its broadcasting and that the lawsuit should be dismissed.
“The Plaintiff in this case has asserted that news providers do not enjoy First Amendment protection when they distribute their programming over a cable television system,” the brief said. “That radical proposition is plainly wrong.”
Last month, Fox News requested the suit’s dismissal, saying the comments by Fox News opinion hosts Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityRittenhouse says he's destroying gun used in fatal Kenosha shootings Dr. Oz expected to run for Senate in Pennsylvania as a Republican: reports Vigilantes are not patriots MORE and Trish Regan were protected under the First Amendment.
“The First Amendment does not permit censoring this type of speech based on the theory that it is ‘false’ or ‘outrageous.’ Nor does the law of the State of Washington,” Fox News said in the motion to dismiss.
The lawsuit accuses the hosts and network of “willfully and maliciously” amplifying inaccurate statements that the virus is a “hoax,” “conspiracy” and not more dangerous than the common flu.
The Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics filed the lawsuit on the same day that dozens of journalism professors and working journalists wrote an open letter to Fox News heads Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch accusing the outlet of spreading misinformation about the pandemic.