The chief legal officer of Fox Corporation tried to throw cold water on growing speculation that he has taken on a broader role at the company, making decisions about the company on behalf of its CEO Lachlan Murdoch,.
In an interview with David Lat, writer of the Substack newsletter “Original Jurisdiction,” Viet Dinh, Fox Corp.’s chief legal and policy officer, demurred at recent stories in The New York Times and Financial Times suggesting he’s taken more control over Fox Corp. affairs. “To ascribe any role to me other than my day job, which is overseeing legal, regulatory, and government affairs, is not only false, it would mean I have far more time than I actually do,” Dinh said in the interview. “Lachlan hired me for what is very much a full-time job, which I can barely manage to do with 24 hours in the day.”
Recent reports have suggested Dinh does much more. In January, New York Times media columnist Ben Smith called Dinh” a kind of regent who mostly runs the company day-to-day.” The FT more recently reported that Dinh “is making decisions on behalf of Lachlan.”
Fox declined to make executives available for comment.
Dinh also indicated he was not worried about a significant $27 billion defamation lawsuit filed against Fox News and three of its personalities by voting-technology firm Smartmatic. At issue in the suit are reports broadcast on Fox News Channel in November and December that implied Smartmatic had played some role in rigging the 2020 election. Smartmatic accused Fox News of repeating the claims and accusations on air and in articles and social-media postings.
“The newsworthy nature of the contested presidential election deserved full and fair coverage from all journalists, Fox News did its job, and this is what the First Amendment protects,” Dinh said in the interview. “I’m not at all concerned about such lawsuits, real or imagined.”
He also tamped down recent ratings hiccups at Fox News, which saw some dips in viewership after the 2020 election. Some viewers were outraged by Fox News’ decision to call Arizona for President Biden during Election Night, well before other news outlets felt they could make a similar call. Fox News has seen its position in primetime return to more normal levels in recent days, though MSNBC and CNN have made gains over the recent period.
“I’m not worried about the new news cycle,” Dinh said. “We knew there would be a drop-off after the election, which happens every few years. We just didn’t anticipate the post-election news cycle that elongated the ‘election’ period by another two months, with the election challenges and the double runoff in Georgia.” He added: “Now that we are back into a normal post-election news cycle, the enduring relevance of Fox News will continue.”