Fox News Replies To Lawsuit’s Claim That The Network Doesn’t Have First Amendment Rights

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Shelby Talcott Media Reporter
Font Size:

Fox News disputed WASHLITE’s claim that cable programmers aren’t protected under the First Amendment in a court filing Monday.

WASHLITE, a nonprofit organization, filed a consumer protection and emotional distress lawsuit against Fox on April 2 over the network’s coverage of the novel coronavirus. Fox filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit to which WASHLITE then responded May 11 in a court filing, claiming that “cable programmers do not have First Amendment rights.”

“That is wrong,” Fox News wrote in its reply in support of the motion to dismiss the First Amendment complaint. “Plaintiffs’ position would allow the government to censor not just Fox News but also CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, Bloomberg, ESPN, and every other cable network. That is as dangerous as it is frivolous.”

Fox News’ reply to WASHLITE’s opposition to the motion added that the nonprofit’s “arguments are equally baseless.” The network called it an “imagined distinction” that “has no basis in law or logic,” according to a copy of the court filing obtained by the Daily Caller. (RELATED: Nonprofit Suing Fox News Over Its Coronavirus Reporting Requests Judge Be Removed)

“They cannot hide that their assault on the First Amendment rests on a false portrayal of what Fox’s commentary actually said. Fortunately, in all events, the Constitution protects Fox’s speech even accepting the Complaint’s distortions,” the court filing reads.

The network previously called the lawsuit a “frontal assault on the freedom of speech.” WASHLITE’s lawsuit requests an injunction to prohibit Fox from “interfering with reasonable and necessary measures to contain the virus by publishing further false and deceptive content” and accuses the network of having “knowingly disseminated false, erroneous, and incomplete information.”

“It’s Constitutional Law 101: the First Amendment protects our right to speak openly and freely on matters of public concern,” Lily Fu Claffee, general counsel for Fox News, said in a press release April 14. “If WASHLITE doesn’t like what we said, it can criticize us, but it can’t silence us with a lawsuit.”