When former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan left congress he took a position on the Board of Directors at the Fox Corporation, where he is part of the team that helps oversee the workings of Fox News. In the aftermath of the 2020 election, which then President Donald Trump insisted had been “stolen” from him, Ryan became alarmed at Fox’s apparent complicity in expanding the audience for Trump’s stolen election claims.
Talking to lawyers in the Dominion Voting Systems billion dollar defamation lawsuit against Fox, Ryan said he warned News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch about what Fox was doing to aide Trump’s so-called “Stop The Steal” campaign. Among other alleged enabling, Fox gave significant air time to election deniers like Rudy Giuliani.
Ryan said he told Murdoch and Murdoch’s son Lachlan, the Fox CEO, that “Fox News should not be spreading conspiracy theories.” (Murdoch the elder also testified, saying of the stolen election narrative: “I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it, in hindsight.”)
What prompted Ryan to speak out at that time, when Fox was shedding viewers to MAGA outlets like NewsMax which evidently had less compunction about spreading stolen election rumors?
Ryan answered with a technical definition for his motive, saying it was his fiduciary duty as a board member.
Q. You thought it was in Fox News’s interest to separate out these fringe claims of voter fraud, correct?
A. Yeah, that’s my fiduciary duty.
[Note: “Fiduciary duty is a requirement that a person in a position of trust, such as a real estate agent, broker, or executor, must act in good faith and honesty on behalf of a client. Fiduciary duty is a legal obligation of the highest degree for one party to act in another’s best interest.”]
Morning Shots: Paul Ryan, Fox News, and the Future of the GOP— Charlie Sykes (@SykesCharlie) February 28, 2023
My conversation with the former speaker…https://t.co/BOPrJ7urJN
Anti-Trump establishment conservative Charlie Sykes interviewed Ryan and asked him about his role at Fox. Sykes sought to understand how the former Speaker could participate in what the network was doing. Below is Sykes’s question and Ryan’s surprising answer, in which Ryan says “I do have a responsibility.”
Sykes: “I understand the need to have another point of view, but if you are on the board of directors of a company that is pumping toxic sludge, racism, disinformation, and attacks on democracy, if you don’t stand up now, then when?… Do you have any responsibility?”
Ryan: “I do. I have a responsibility to offer my opinion and perspective and I do that, but I don’t go on TV and do it right. So I offer my perspective, my opinion, often. I’ll just leave it at that.”