CNN and MSNBC compete tooth-and-nail with Fox News Channel every day of the week. But a trade association that counts their parent companies as members wants to help their rival defend itself in an eyebrow-raising court case.
The Internet and Television Association, which represents cable programmers and distributors, has filed a motion to include an amicus brief in a case filed in Washington state by a little-known that in April called for a judge to keep Fox News from airing false information about the coronavirus pandemic. The organization, known as the Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics, or WASHLITE, is seeking an injunction to keep Fox News from “publishing further and false and deceptive content” about the coronavirus pandemic. Several Fox News opinion hosts in prior weeks questioned the level of the coronavirus threat, with former Fox Business Network anchor Trish Regan losing her position at the company after hosting a segment with graphics that read “Coronavirus Impeachment Scam” while suggesting liberals were overstating the danger of the contagion.
WASHLITE asserts in filings that cable networks are subject to consumer protection acts and puts fort the notion that deceptive or unfair acts may be enjoined under statutes in Washington state.
Fox News has filed a motion calling for the case to be dismissed, citing its First Amendment rights. A hearing has been set for May 21.
In a filing in Washington State Superior Court, the trade association and the non-profit Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press said WASHLITE “in this case has asserted that news providers do not enjoy First Amendment protection when they distribute their programming over a cable television system. That radical proposition is plainly wrong.”
Whether the filing will be accepted as part of the case remains up to Judge Brian McDonald.