Fox News and its powerful boss, Rupert Murdoch, are facing a second major defamation lawsuit over the network’s coverage of the 2020 presidential election, a new front in media disruption and a growing legal battle over its consequences.
Donald J. In Trump’s latest aftershock, an attempt to reduce President Biden’s victory, the Dominion Voting System, an electoral technology company that was at the center of a baseless pro-Trump conspiracy theory about voting machines, sued Fox News on Friday Filed. Moving forward destroyed his reputation and business.
Dominion, which has requested a jury trial, is seeking damages of at least $ 1.6 billion. In less than two months, Smartmatic, another election tech company, Sued for $ 2.7 billion Named Fox anchors Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Piro as defendants against and against Mr. Murdoch’s Fox Corporation.
In a 139-page complaint filed in Delaware Superior Court, Dominion portrayed Fox as an active player, claiming that the company had changed the vote count and benefited Mr. Biden in the election Had to manipulate their machines.
Those lies were constantly pushed into public forums by Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Rudolf Giuliani and Sidney Powell, including on Fox’s programs.
In January, Dominion sued Mr. Giuliani And Ms. Powell, Accusing them of defamation. The company also sued Mike lindellMyPillow’s chief executive and a Trump aide who was a frequent guest on Fox and other conservative media outlets. Each of those suits seeks damages of more than $ 1 billion.
“Truth matters,” Dominion’s lawyers wrote in Friday’s complaint against Fox. “There are consequences of lies. Fox sold a false story of election fraud to serve its own commercial purposes, seriously injuring Dominion in the process. If this case does not rise to the level of defamation by a broadcaster, then nothing does. “
In a statement on Friday, Fox said its 2020 election coverage is “in the highest tradition of American journalism” and pledged to “vigorously defend against this baseless lawsuit in court”.
The filing of Dominion called his lawyers a new phase in the fight against his convicts, and Thomas A., the attorney representing the company. Kleer said the Fox lawsuit was unlikely to be its final legal action. The law firm Susman Godfrey, best known for the trial of lawsuits, recently joined Drs. Together with Claire’s firm, he assisted in Dominion’s case.
Fox Corporation Filed a motion to dismiss The Smartmatic lawsuit, arguing that the false claims of electoral fraud made on its channels were part of covering a rapidly shattering story of significant public interest.
“The effort by a meeting chairman to challenge the outcome of an election is inexplicably new,” Fox wrote in the motion.
The statement Mr. Trump and his allies made about Dominion was one of the more baroque creations of a month-long effort to doubt the 2020 election results and convince Americans that Mr. Biden’s victory was not valid.
Dominion, established in 2002, is one of the largest manufacturers of voting machine equipment in the United States. More than two dozen states used their devices last year, including several made by Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump’s allies portrayed Dominion as false, as biased on Mr. Biden’s side and argued, without evidence, that it was tied to long-dead Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. According to the complaint, John Paulos, Dominion’s founder and other employees received harassing and threatening messages to the public that the company had skewed the election results.
Fox News and Fox Business events were among the mass-media venues where Dominion was condemned by supporters of Mr. Trump. The lawsuit also cites instances when Fox hosts, including Ms. Bartiromo and Mr. Dobbs, are unexpectedly repeated or embroiled for false claims made by Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell.
“Fox took a small flame and turned it into wildfire,” Dominion wrote in the lawsuit, noting that the network “gave these imaginations a prominence otherwise they would never have achieved.”
Dominion’s attorneys on Friday cited an unusual argument by Ms. Powell, which was filed in a motion on Monday, to dismiss a separate Dominion suit against her.
In this motion, her lawyers stated that, because political language is often inefficient, “no reasonable person” would accept Ms. Powell’s claims. The motion essentially argues that its claims about Dominion’s voting machines were hyperbolic and therefore not maligned.
Mr. Klear described Ms. Powell’s contention as “ridiculous”, but said of her admissibility that her claims were not factual that could prove relevant to Dominion’s suit. “Claire knew these were lies, but she made a deliberate decision to spread them to her vast audience,” Mr. Clare said on a call with reporters.
Dominion says it recently lost large contracts with election officials in Georgia and Louisiana, noting that the company now “faces hatred, contempt, and mistrust for millions of American voters.”
Defamation lawsuit is a Relatively novel strategy In the fight against disintegration, but it has produced some early results.
In February, two days after Smartmatic filed its lawsuit, Fox Business Cancel “Lo Dobbs Tonight,” Its highest grade program. An anchor on Newsmax – a pro-Trump cable channel that received letters of imminent legal action from Dominion and Smartmatic Signaling – cut to an interview with Mr. Lindell after the founder of MyPillow launched an attack on Dominion.
Together, Dominion and Smartmatic are seeking at least $ 4.3 billion in damages from Fox. Controlled by Mr. Murdoch, 90 and his elder son, Lachlan. Fox corporation The report stated that it made $ 3 billion in pretax profits from September 2019 to September 2020 on revenue of $ 12.3 billion.
As a major media organization, Fox News enjoys strong protection under First Amendment case law, often holding newspapers and broadcasters liable for claims made for the subjects of the interview. If a court determines that Dominion is a public figure, its attorneys have to show that Fox acted with “genuine malice” and “reckless neglect”, a high standard to meet in general. is.
William & Mary Law School Professor Timothy Jick said, “Being responsible here at Fox can create a concern that people are very interested in knowing about.”
In its lawsuit on Friday, Dominion argued that Fox had an incentive to spread lies about a rigged election that angered Trump’s supporters onlookers Network launch Mr. Biden will take over Arizona.
Dominion also makes the case that Fox and its hosts benefited from repeating these baseless claims. The suit cites an increase in ratings for anchors such as Ms. Bartiromo and Mr. Dobe, and notes that Ms. Piro’s ex-husband, who spoke on the air of one Stolen election, Later received a pardon from Mr. Trump.
Fox has argued that its reporting on the election should be viewed in its totality, pointing out that at least one host, Tucker Carlson, expressed skepticism about Ms. Powell’s statements. The network has also stated that the claims of the president’s lawyers in an election dispute were inherently new.
Free-speech experts said that Fox was forced to defend its journalism extensively, rather than the particular claims aired about Dominion and Smartmatic.
“Fox has had a problem because many of its pundits have asked Dominion to pursue the case,” prominent First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams said in an interview.