Tally-Ho? The Left’s Fox Hunt Draws Blank

Oscar Wilde once observed, “fox hunting is the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible.” This explains, in part, why fox hunting has been banned in England since 2004.

Yet, this ban has not ended the fox’s peril. Illegal poaching abounds; and within the statute itself are exemptions for legal fox hunting. One of these exemptions holds: “The first condition is that the stalking or flushing out is undertaken for the purpose of preventing or reducing serious damage which the wild mammal would otherwise cause.”

Fashioning himself “Master of the Foxhounds,” Vanity Fair’s Gabe Sherman has doubled the horn that a fox is afoot—specifically, a fox of the cable news variety.

“With a blood curdling ‘Tally-ho!’, [he] charged into the ranks” of the MSNBC idiocracy to unleash and cast the leftist hounds: “If it actually winds up being proved that people died because of [their coverage of COVID-19], this is a new terrain in terms of Fox being possibly held liable for their actions.”

In the Pacific Northwest, the whelps raising their cry are the Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics. (Curiously, WashLITE’s commitment to transparency doesn’t extend to disclosing their donors.) This Fox hunting party has assembled their field masters, huntsmen, whippers-in, and joint masters—i.e., their legal team—to find the line and drive Fox News out of its cable covert.

Filing in a state court under Washington’s consumer protection statute, this regressive hunting party doesn’t view its lawsuit over Fox’s COVID-19 coverage as a babble or lark. As the Times of San Diego reports, WashLITE believes the First Amendment has its own Fox News hunting exemption: “Fox is not a newspaper and is not sued in this action for the programming on its broadcast television stations.”

Further, the group contends the U.S. Supreme Court “has long recognized that cable programmers do not have First Amendment rights on the cable medium . . . Rather, the law is that only cable operators, such as AT&T, Comcast, and Spectrum, enjoy First Amendment rights on their privately owned cable systems.”

As for the harm to the plaintiffs, all four of which coincidentally are members of WashLITE—and perhaps its only members who have watched Fox News for any purpose other than ratting it out to Media Matters and Oliver Darcy—one claims that the University of Alaska canceled classes right after she’d closed escrow on a $185,000 home in Fairbanks for her son to live in while he attended the school; moreover, she’d also “purchased a new pickup truck for $32,000, which [she] cannot now reasonably use or drive back to Washington through Canada.”

Another, claiming to be a regular viewer of Fox News, alleges that she “failed to buy protective masks and other supplies while they were still available and had to go to extreme lengths to obtain paper products, hand sanitizer and, at times, food.”

Yet another alleges his business’ efforts to “develop and market a ‘novel blood oxygenation system’ therapy for Covid-19” was harmed because “potential partners, investors or supporters were uncertain if there was actually a significant problem to begin with, and were reluctant to commit”; and, thus, a “potentially lifesaving new method of Covid-19 treatment” was prospectively impaired.

Finally, a plaintiff alleges Fox News “led me to ignore a significant health threat and to fail to take precautions against infection . . . I believe it contributed to my becoming infected with the disease.”

Not to be outdone, the leader of WashLITE, Arthur West, “filed his own eight-page declaration in which he said he was a pre-COVID investor in Evolving Medical Solutions—and also took a potential financial hit.”

Labeling Fox’s COVID-19 pandemic coverage deceptive and misleading, WashLITE is demanding the court order the network to cover the matter in a manner the nonprofit deems suitable; and further demands the network issue sundry retractions.

It remains to be seen whether Fox will countersue and demand the plaintiffs be mandated to complete a rudimentary civics class and be compelled to exhibit a passing acquaintance with the concept of personal responsibility, lest they receive a court-appointed guardian.

That this lawsuit could potentially open the floodgates against left-wing cable stations is lost upon said stations. After all, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s thoughtfully enumerated a laundry list of elitist press failings regarding the pandemic. One would think they’d recognize their stake in the matter. (Indeed, as in hunting parlance, the fox is also known as a “Charlie” or “Todd,” this should be rather salient to MSNBC’s Chuck Todd.)

Nonetheless, at best, the elitist media remains blissfully ignorant of the threat WashLITE’s Fox hunt poses to themselves; or, at worst, they are gleefully rooting for WashLITE to destroy their competition, which is something these lefty outlets cannot themselves do in the ratings. Why?

First, the elitist media thinks conservatives are too committed to the First Amendment to file such lawsuits. Second, in spite of the historical record of radicalism, the elitist media thinks such regressive left-wing groups will only attack conservative organizations. Third, the elitist media believe their own balderdash to the point they think they’re telling the truth. Fourth, all of the above. Regardless, in this rare instance, their silence is deafening, rather than welcome.

For its part, Fox News refuses to go to ground or to heel. It has hired the legal powerhouse firm Jones Day, whose lawyers have argued:

Fox’s commentary on the coronavirus is core political speech on a matter of public concern—how dangerous the coronavirus is, and how society and the government should respond to it . . . Under both the First Amendment and state law, the value of this type of speech must be resolved through free and open debate in the marketplace of ideas—not through litigation seeking to impose legal penalties on statements alleged to be “false” or contrary to official government pronouncements.

In a perfect world, this politicized, frivolous case should be dismissed swiftly. WashLITE’s legal argument—that how a news organization reaches the public (in this instance, via cable) dictates whether or not it is a news organization—is imbecilic and injurious. But WashLITE must try to fabricate this silly argument because a state statute cannot supersede the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, they must endeavor to strip Fox of its constitutional protections.

Ultimately, this will fail; and there is a distinct chance a court will find this lawsuit frivolous and award Fox News legal fees, damages, or both.

When WashLITE draws blank and fails to find the Fox, the network will hoist the stirrup cup, giving best for all cable network news programs.

No, they will not be thanked.

The Left’s Fox hunt will go on, for as Shakespeare’s Duke of Gloucester noted in “Henry VI, Part I”: “’Tis not my speeches that you do mislike, but ’tis my presence that doth trouble you. Rancor will out.”


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About Thaddeus G. McCotter

An American Greatness contributor, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) represented Michigan’s 11th Congressional district from 2003 to 2012 and served as Chair of the Republican House Policy Committee. Not a lobbyist, he is a frequent public speaker and moderator for public policy seminars, and a Monday co-host of the "John Batchelor Show" among sundry media appearances.

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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