Judge Allows Fox News Defamation Suit to Include Fox Corporation
A judge presiding over the libel suit against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems ruled this week that the cable channel’s parent company, Fox Corporation, may be involved in the lawsuit, increasing its potential legal exposure to the highest ranks of the Fox media empire.
Dominion had argued that Fox Corporation should also be part of the lawsuit because its two top executives, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, “played a direct role in participating in, approving and auditing” statements that expressed false perceptions of voter fraud in the presidential election. fed 2020. election.
In a decision, Judge Eric M. Davis of the Delaware Superior Court said Dominion had presented “sufficient” facts to support her claim that Fox Corporation was “directly liable” for what Fox News broadcast on the air. He reasoned that the Murdochs were widely known for helping shape Fox News coverage. Judge Davis also said it was reasonable to conclude that Fox Corporation had “participated in the making and publication of defamatory statements by Fox News.”
Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox News, filed in March 2021, is seeking at least $1.6 billion in damages.
“Truth matters,” Dominion’s lawyers wrote in their first complaint. “Lies have consequences. Fox sold a false election fraud story to serve his own commercial ends, seriously injuring Dominion. If this case doesn’t get to the level of defamation by a broadcaster, then nothing will happen.”
Fox News and its parent company have denied that the statements in question were defamatory in the first place, arguing that what was said on Fox broadcasts about Dominion was partially protected speech. Included were several baseless allegations from Fox News hosts and guests that Dominion was somehow complicit in a conspiracy to steal votes from former President Donald J. Trump.
Separately, Judge Davis denied a claim by Dominion to extend his lawsuit to Fox Broadcasting, the television and entertainment division of the Fox brand, which airs shows like “MasterChef” and “The Simpsons.”
Fox News decided to dismiss the Dominion case late last year, but that motion was rejected.
The lawsuit is in the discovery phase, the process by which Dominion attorneys scour internal Fox communications looking for evidence. Dominion’s attorneys will have to prove that the people at the network acted with “genuine malice,” meaning that they either knew the charges against Dominion were false or recklessly ignored facts that would prove they were untrue.