Fox News and maybe Rupert Murdoch will have to face up to the channel’s broadcast of false accusations of electoral fraud in the presidential race for 2020 on Tuesday, in what will be one of the most popular media prosecutions in decades.
According to Dominion Voting Systems, Fox News hurt sales by spreading conspiracy theories that the company’s voting devices were used to rig the presidential election in 2020 in support of Joe Biden.
Fox News and its parent business, Fox Corporation, have argued that their coverage of conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 election falls within the first amendment’s protection of free expression.
The network claims that its journalists and presenters were covering “newsworthy charges.” The corporation also claims Dominion’s damage claim of $1.6 billion is excessive.
Where Did We Come From?
After the election, Trump and his advisors, acolytes, and followers made many bogus allegations of election fraud. One of them claimed that votes had been switched from Trump to Biden using voting devices produced by Dominion Voting Systems.
After the election, Fox News broadcast these false claims about Dominion several times. ominion filed a lawsuit against Fox News in March 2021, claiming that the network had defamed the company by spreading false information about the voting machines.
Fox News invited Trump associates Sidney Powell & Rudy Giuliani on air, where they both perpetuated the Dominion conspiracy theory. Dominion also asserts that Maria Bartiromo or Lou Dobbs, whose has since departed Fox News, “supported and repeated” false statements made by Powell and Giuliani.
Superior court magistrate Eric Davis concluded in March that the case should proceed to trial because it was “crystal evident” that none of the charges made by Trump loyalists on Fox in the days and weeks following the election were factual.
The 92-year-old head of Fox company, which owns Fox News, might be the main attraction. Fox News likewise has Murdoch as its executive chairman.
The judge in the lawsuit, Davis, stated on April 4 that Dominion may compel both Murdoch & his son, Malcolm Murdoch, a to testify. Dominion has already said that it would summon both men, despite Fox’s best efforts to avoid having the Murdochs appear in court.
Fox News’ two most popular and well-known anchors, Tucker Carlson of Fox News and Sean Hannity, are also expected to testify. Dominion also claims it can force Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs, and Maria Bartiromo to make an appearance.
A guest on Bartiromo and Pirro’s show named Sidney Powell falsely claimed that Dominion computers were “flipping votes in a computer system or inserting votes that didn’t exist” during one broadcast.
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So, Where Do We Stand Now?
In February, as part of the legal process, emails and texts from Fox News workers and executives were made public. hose texts revealed that a number of Fox managers and on-air personalities were skeptical of the allegations yet continued to run them.
Carlson called Powell a liar for her comments about Dominion, while Fox News co-host Laura Ingraham called her “a total crazy” in separate messages. Fox News executives blasted the channel’s coverage of conspiracy theories as “mind-blowingly insane,” “absolutely off the tracks,” and “full BS” in other communications.
Murdoch said in the complaint that Fox News presenters “supported” the false narrative Trump advanced.
Dominion’s legal team is banking on the discrepancy between what was shown on television and what Fox News employees knew under the scenes to satisfy the “actual malice” test and win a defamation lawsuit.
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And Fox Is Saying… What Exactly?
Fox News and the Fox Corporation stand behind their reporting on the Dominion claims. They argue that the First Amendment protects each and every comment made on Fox News.
Companies say Dominion’s allegations of financial losses are exaggerated. Fox claims in its court papers that Dominion’s calculation of damages is “fanciful” and rests on “faulty assumptions.”
Dominion’s lawsuit is “a political campaign in quest of a financial gain,” but the true cost would be “cherished first amendment rights,” Fox said in a statement.
A judgement for Monarch and his private equity investors would have dire ramifications for the whole media industry, whereas Fox News has remained consistent in upholding the freedoms of a free press.
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For What Reason Has Fox Not Reached A Settlement?
Fox may yet be able to reach a settlement in this matter. Fox & Murdoch have avoided going to trial by settling several disputes in the past. This means that they have agreed to pay damages to the other party.
In reality, in early April Fox Corporation resolved a defamation action for election-related conspiracy allegations. Specifically, a Venezuelan businessman named Majed Khalil had sued the news organization and Dobbs for “orchestrating a nonexistent conspiracy to rig or influence the election,” which he said the two had concocted.
Fox News already suffered a hit to its image, but a settlement might prevent the publishing of the internal correspondence.
The Washington Post reported in late 2022 that attorneys from both parties met to try to resolve their disagreements, but the meetings ultimately failed. The Post reports that the negotiations have stalled over the size of the compensation Dominion is seeking and Fox’s fear of public humiliation if it is obliged to issue an apology.
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On Tuesday, April 18th, the trial will begin in Wilmington. The trial is expected to run about five weeks, and it is possible that media mogul Rupert Murdoch may testify during that time.