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Dominion Case Against Fox News Will Go to Trial
In a significant judgment that overturned several of the right-wing network’s main arguments, a Delaware judge determined Friday that the historic defamation case brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News will move forward to a high-stakes jury trial in mid-April.
The judge’s ruling is a bitter blow for Fox News and creates the possibility of a grueling, lengthy trial in which the network’s top executives and most well-known personalities may be asked to testify regarding the false information that was spread on the air during the 2020 election.
Both sides had requested a preliminary judgment pronouncing them the winners from Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis. Davis concluded the case should proceed to trial after thousands of pages of documents and exhibits, as well as numerous arguments in court.
But he added that one issue that jurors won’t have to consider was the veracity of Fox’s assertions regarding Dominion. The information gathered in this civil case, according to Davis, “displays that it is CLEAR obvious that none of the Claims relating to Dominion concerning the 2020 election are true.”
Davis’ decision means that a jury will have to decide whether Fox News defamed Dominion by repeatedly promoting untrue allegations that the voting technology company rigged the 2020 presidential election by switching millions of votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden, barring an out-of-court settlement, which is always a possibility. Dominion is seeking damages of $1.6 billion.
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In Wilmington, Delaware, jury selection is expected to start on April 13. Fox Corporation, the parent corporation of Fox News, and it both rejects any wrongdoing. They have claimed that their broadcasts following the 2020 election, which was riddled with conspiracy theories, were protected by the First Amendment because their on-air reporters were only covering “newsworthy claims.”
After the decision, a Fox spokesperson remarked, “This case is and always has been about the First Amendment safeguards of the media’s unequivocal freedom to cover the news.” When we advance to the next stage of these proceedings, “Fox will continue to vehemently advocate for the rights of free speech and a free press.”
Judge blocks key Fox defenses
Fox News suffered a serious setback when Davis destroyed several of the network’s prospective trial defenses in his 130-page decision. Overall, these Davis findings exclude numerous crucial arguments that Fox could have made to the jury, making it more difficult for them to win the case at trial.
According to Davis, Fox News cannot claim the “neutral report privilege,” which defends reporters who impartially and impartially report noteworthy allegations. Fox News anchors, according to Dominion, effectively took a side in covering the 2020 election’s aftermath by supporting the untrue notion that Dominion was to blame for the invalid results.
According to Davis, “the evidence does not indicate that (Fox News) did good-faith, impartial reporting.” The fact that Dominion and the public realm have both produced substantial contradictory information suggests that Fox News’ reporting was not impartial. Also, the judge disallowed Fox News from citing the jury’s “fair report privilege.”
Journalists who cover statements made at public events like congressional hearings or accusations made in court documents like a civil lawsuit are protected by this legal notion. Davis emphasized that the date of Fox’s on-air statements did not line up with the lawsuits that attempted to annul the 2020 election and were frequently brought by pro-Trump attorneys like Sidney Powell.
The majority of the contested statements, according to Davis, were made before any legal action had been taken. Davis also noted that only one of the approximately 20 broadcasts on Fox’s networks that Dominion says damaged its reputation even referred to Ms. Powell’s case.
By ruling that the on-air claims at the center of the dispute were either factual assertions or “mixed opinion,” the judge handed Dominion a lift and maybe made it more difficult for Fox to defend itself in front of the jury. As the words were “pure opinion,” Fox had sought Davis to decide that they could not be considered defamatory under the First Amendment.
Because the assertions were made by newscasters who presented themselves as reliable sources of information, Davis argued that the context “supports the view that the utterances were not pure opinion.” Fox News appeared to “charge Dominion with the serious crime of election fraud,” according to Davis’ ruling, and even if the statements were merely opinions, they would not have been protected by the Constitution.
“Accusations of criminal activity, even in the form of opinion, are not constitutionally protected,” Davis wrote. The voting technology firm applauded these portions of Davis’ ruling in a statement on Friday. “We are pleased by the Court’s detailed decision soundly dismissing all of Fox’s arguments and defenses and finding that their claims concerning Dominion are untrue as a matter of law. In a statement, a representative for Dominion said, “We look forward to getting to trial.
At trial, Fox’s legal responsibility will be determined. Fox’s reputation has already suffered because of the case, though. Accusatory messages and emails have revealed that Fox execs, hosts, and producers didn’t buy the Dominion-related hype the network was putting out there. These disclosures dealt a fatal blow to the notion that Fox News is anything other than a biased GOP enterprise that prioritizes ratings above all else.
One of the most important defamation cases in recent memory, according to the lawsuit. Fox has claimed that a defeat will destroy press freedoms, and many academics concur that the burden of proof for defamation should remain high. According to some commentators, impartial journalists who would never intentionally spread lies won’t be threatened by holding Fox accountable for doing so.
Fox News has been shown as a right-wing money-making machine that lacks even the most fundamental journalistic ethics and is willing to spread deranged electoral conspiracy theories to maintain its lucrative business, according to a pile of evidence gathered in the case.
Rupert Murdoch, the head of Fox Corporation, said in his sworn deposition that some of his top hosts had broadcasted election lies that he was aware were false. However, according to internal text messages and emails made public in court documents, the network’s most well-known performers and top executives publicly debunked the conspiracy theories that were being floated on-air following the 2020 election.
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The court documents revealed how concerned Fox News executives and hosts were about losing viewers to Newsmax, a lesser-known right-wing talk channel that was oversaturating its airways with electoral skepticism. However, private letters uncovered in court documents showed that Fox News executives and commentators began to retaliate against people at the network who fact-checked election claims.
Contrary to what was shown, Fox News executives and commentators blasted the Trump campaign in private for spreading false charges of electoral fraud. Rupert Murdoch claimed it was “very horrible” that Rudy Giuliani was counseling Trump, and Hannity said he was “acting like a mad person.” Ingraham called him “an idiot.”
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