A new Delaware law that would restore the rights of stockholders to bring class action lawsuits without fear of having to pay legal costs if they don't win every single part of their legal claim is being slammed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its affiliate, the Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). But even right-wing media outlet Forbes isn't sold on their arguments.
In May, the Delaware Supreme Court surprisingly ruled in ATP Tour v. Deutscher Tennis Bund that corporations were allowed to unilaterally add bylaws forcing the loser in shareholder litigation to pay all the associated legal fees. These sorts of "loser pays" provisions are atypical in the U.S. but have been promoted by conservative organizations like the Chamber and the ILR under the guise of ending "frivolous lawsuits." Ultimately, though, such provisions have the effect of deterring or outright blocking many meritorious class action lawsuits brought by victims of corporate malfeasance.
In response to the state supreme court's holding in ATP Tour, Delaware legislators have proposed SB 236, a bill that would reinstate the normal prohibition on "loser pays" bylaws. The ILR is already registering its vocal opposition to the bill, arguing that it will leave corporations vulnerable to "abusive litigation."
Usually, right-wing media can be counted on to recycle the Chamber and ILR's pro-business talking points, in particular The Wall Street Journal editorial board. This time, however, even Forbes' Daniel Fisher questioned ILR's arguments. According to Fisher, who has supported anti-consumer provisions like forced arbitration clauses in the past, "opponents of SB 236 may be pushing too far" by promoting a loser pays system:
The bill's sponsor, Democratic Sen. Bryan Townsend, said he will set the bill aside for a while amid vocal opposition by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, according to the Wilmington News Journal.
The bill seems to restore the status quo by affirming the limited liability nature of corporations, where shareholders can only lose money to the extent of their investment. But the ILR said the proposed law -- passed, it noted, on "an extraordinarily expedited basis" -- would reverse a decision that "gives corporations a way to protect their shareholders" against the costs of "abusive litigation."
By pushing to retain the option implied by the ATP Tour decision, opponents of SB 236 may be pushing too far. Delaware courts have granted them ample tools to deal with shareholder litigation and chipping away at limited liability might be a cure that is worse than the disease.
Fisher's skepticism of ILR's issues with the bill are well-founded. According to Paul Bland, executive director of Public Justice, the Delaware Supreme Court's decision not only runs afoul of the basic concepts of contract law by allowing corporations to unilaterally change the rules of the game on their investors, it makes it "far easier for corporations to insulate themselves from accountability if they cheat shareholders or break the law. By contrast, the vast majority of courts in the U.S. disapprove of this kind of loser-pays provision."
It's not just states like Delaware that are threatening the viability of investor class action lawsuits, one of the best ways for defrauded stakeholders to get legal relief from the corporation who harmed them. Any day now, the Supreme Court will issue its decision in Halliburton v. Erica P. John Fund, a case that could make it nearly impossible for investors who have been the victims of corporate fraud to join together as a class and sue. Watch Bland explain in two minutes how Halliburton could be yet another in a long line of pro-business decisions from the conservative majority at the Court:
Cheered on by right-wing media, the conservative justices of the Roberts Court are steadily dismantling Americans' ability to access justice through class actions, case after case.
The latest chance for the Supreme Court to roll back consumer protections in favor of big business is in Halliburton v. Erica P. John Fund, a case that could make it more difficult for investors to bring class action lawsuits against corporations who commit fraud. Right-wing media have been busy misinforming about the case, calling securities litigation a "situation basically directly out of a Kafka novel," a "windfall" for plaintiffs lawyers, and have attacked class actions as "frivolous" and "ineffective."
For its part, the conservative Roberts Court has repeatedly sided with corporations, all the while making it difficult for consumers to fight back. Under Roberts, the Court has slashed at its own precedent in an effort to make class actions obsolete, making it more difficult for women and people of color who have been systematically paid less by their employers to join together as a class to sue.
Paul Bland, the executive director of Public Justice, has dedicated his professional life as a lawyer and consumer advocate to protecting people from corporate wrongdoers and bad Supreme Court decisions. Watch as he explains how the pro-business tilt of the Court has harmed not just his clients, but everyone.
Fox News has finally succeeded in convincing House Republicans to establish a select committee on Benghazi, a move it has hyped for more than eighteen months. The network has celebrated in classic Fox style: by reviving a host of debunked Benghazi myths and patting itself on the back for its political influence.
On May 2, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced that he would call for a vote in the House "to establish a new select committee to investigate the attack, provide the necessary accountability, and ensure justice is finally served." Fox figures were quick to brag about their role in the creation of the select committee and their unrelenting coverage of the 2012 attacks, which most recently included a misguided attempt to turn an innocuous email by Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes into the new "smoking gun" that proved the Obama administration covered up the truth about the attacks in Benghazi.
Boehner announced on May 9 the six GOP lawmakers who will join Republican Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina on the select committee: Reps. Susan Brooks of Indiana, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mike Pompeo of Kansas, Martha Roby of Alabama, Peter Roskam of Illinois and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia. The Speaker even commemorated the announcement with this tweet:
Fox's calls for a select committee long precede the latest manufactured scandal du jour. The network's promotion of a select committee dates to as early as November 2012 and has continued ever since, unabated by the numerous investigations and hearings on Benghazi already completed. Take a look:
Fox News has repeatedly resisted calls to raise taxes on the wealthy and on corporations over the past year, often peddling a number of myths about the connection between top tax rates and economic growth.
In honor of Tax Day, here's Fox News protecting the rich over the past year:
Fox News is celebrating Equal Pay Day by downplaying the problem of a pay gap between men and women in the United States.
April 8 marks the observance of Equal Pay Day, an awareness campaign to educate the public about the pay discrepancy between working men and women in the United States. According to the most recent report from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), women working full-time in 2012 took home approximately 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man working full-time, a ratio that has remained stagnant for nearly a decade.
Despite the discrepancy in take-home pay between American men and women, right-wing media voices, led by Fox News, continue to disregard the issue entirely, claiming either that the gap is not real or that it is too insignificant to merit a proactive response.
Watch Fox deny reality as it attempts to pretend the gender pay gap away:
Narration by Meagan Hatcher-Mays
In the four years since the signing of the Affordable Care Act, right-wing media has engaged in a campaign to undermine the law in any way possible, frequently resorting to lies, myths, and misinformation. Among the most prominent and long-lasting of these myths are claims that the law amounts to socialized medicine, will harm the economy, provides federal funding for abortions, kills thousands of jobs, and of course, creates death panels.
To find out the truth behind other health care reform myths, visit Media Matters' Mythopedia project.
Conservative radio host Mark Levin is receiving the "inaugural" Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award at noon today at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual conference for right-wing activists.
The award, named after the conservative media entrepreneur who passed away in 2012, will be presented by top executives at Breitbart News, the website he founded, and by Citizens United President David Bossie.
Levin has a long history of pushing conservative lies and hateful rhetoric, including recently comparing marriage equality to incest, polygamy, and drug use, comparing supporters of the new health care law to Nazi "brown shirts," claiming "middle class" is a "Marxist term," supporting racial profiling, and likening immigration reform to the "destruction" and "unraveling" of society.
According to Breitbart News, Levin is winning the award because he "fearlessly and passionately stands up for conservatives and everyday Americans whose voices the mainstream press often tries to marginalize or silence."
CBS News has pulled its dubious 60 Minutes report on the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi following the revelation that Dylan Davies, the segment's featured "witness," has given contradictory stories about that night's events. But Fox News, which aggressively promoted the CBS segment and used it to claim that their own Benghazi reporting had been validated, has so far ignored the story's implosion in its on-air reporting.
Fox was eager to seize on the CBS report shortly after it aired. On October 28, the morning after the 60 Minutes segment, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy told viewers, "It's great that mainstream media, finally catching up. CBS did this story on Benghazi and I see criticism from the left where they go, 'You guys are covering a phony scandal.' 60 Minutes doesn't cover phony scandals."
That evening, Special Report host Bret Baier said that the 60 Minutes report "reaffirmed what we knew and had reported on." The Real Story host Gretchen Carlson and The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld also used the CBS report to prop up their network's own Benghazi reporting.
All told, Fox spent more than 47 minutes -- spread across 13 segments on 11 separate shows -- covering the CBS report on October 28. And it didn't stop there.
After serious questions were raised about Davies' credibility, the network rallied to his defense, with Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade suggesting the administration had leaked damaging information to the press in order to "discredit a seemingly very credible witness."
Davies had even suggested that Fox News had been involved in a campaign to smear him when Fox correspondent Adam Housley reported on-air that the network stopped talking to Davies after he asked them for money. Nonetheless, Fox personalities still sought to defend his credibility. (Washington Post reporter Eric Wemple points out that during Housley's explanation that Davies had asked for money, Housley said that the network had previously used him as a source for online reports; Wemple rightly asks whether the network plans to review those reports now that Davies' credibility is shot.)
Last night, after the New York Times confirmed that Davies had provided conflicting stories about his actions the night of the terror attacks, CBS pulled the segment from its website and YouTube. This morning, CBS reporter Lara Logan apologized to CBS viewers, saying, "We were wrong. We made a mistake." Logan added that 60 Minutes planned to "correct the record on our broadcast on Sunday night."
But now that CBS has pulled the report, Fox has gone silent. As of 1:45pm, the network still has not told its viewers that the 60 Minutes report has been retracted. (While it hasn't covered the latest developments on-air, FoxNews.com has posted the CBS apology and retraction.)
UPDATE: By the end of Fox News' regular programming schedule at 11 PM EST on November 8, the network had acknowledged the fact that CBS pulled its 60 Minutes report in only one 26-second segment. On Special Report, host Bret Baier stated, "CBS is backing off a report on 60 Minutes -- we told you about last week -- that relied on a source whose credibility has crumbled."
Fox News expressed outrage after President Obama, in a speech supporting the Affordable Care Act, pointed out that viewers watching Fox were likely to think the health care law is "horrible." On the Septmber 27 edition of America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer complained about the president's speech, absurdly asking, "What has been reported on Fox News Channel that is not accurate?"
Below is a small sample of the misinformation and outright lies that Fox has directed toward the Affordable Care Act: