In what could be both financially and reputationally damaging to the business, Fox News faces a critical defamation suit in its ongoing case Dominion Voting Systems Vs. Fox Corp.
- Dominion Voting Systems has taken the conservative news network to court for $1.6 billion in damages after its hosts repeatedly claimed the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent.
- Jury selection for the trial began Thursday.
- Founder Rupert Murdoch could be forced to take the witness stand on Monday and face questions about his role in facilitating the network’s direction and statements.
- His son Lachlan Murdock and several Fox News hosts are also facing potential testimony.
Why It’s Important
The upcoming trial stands to be costly and humiliating for Fox News if Dominion can convince a Delaware jury that executives were purposely peddling false election narratives and defamation against the voting machine company, which stands to win one of the largest defamation lawsuits in history.
Emails and messages obtained by Dominion in litigation allegedly show the network’s executives pushing election mistruths and narratives following the election, in fear of losing Trump-supporting Republican to rival network Newsmax. Dominion argues this qualifies as malicious defamation, Bloomberg reports.
“Do the executives understand how much credibility and trust we’ve lost with our audience? We’re playing with fire, for real … an alternative like Newsmax could be devastating to us,” television host Tucker Carlson allegedly said. Dominion also claims Carlson considered Pro-Trump attorney Sydney Powell’s election-fraud claims “obviously untrue” and “unbelievably offensive,” while host Sean Hannity called her a “f—ing lunatic.”
If Dominion wins the case, experts say the fine could be anywhere from $375 million to the maximum of $1.6 billion. While even the largest amount would not be devastating to a $20-billion media conglomerate, it would greatly hurt the news outlets credibility, which claims to be “fair and balanced” in its coverage.
Backing Up A Bit
The fraud claims have largely come directly from former President Donald Trump, who spent the months after the November 2020 election arguing that his election loss was due to widespread corruption and fraud. However, the evidence he has attempted to gather and present has not convinced federal judges or election officials.
Fox News has continued to air content supporting the former president and his bid for the upcoming 2024 presidential election while hedging its bets on undeclared Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, creating a complicated relationship between the conservative network and its former preferred candidate.
“Dominion’s lawsuit is a political crusade in search of a financial windfall, but the real cost would be cherished First Amendment rights. While Dominion has pushed irrelevant and misleading information to generate headlines, Fox News remains steadfast in protecting the rights of a free press, given a ruling for Dominion and its private equity owners would have grave consequences for the entire journalism profession,” says Fox News.
“As long-settled law makes clear, the First Amendment does not shield broadcasters that knowingly or recklessly spread lies. The Court has rejected Fox’s First Amendment ‘newsworthy allegation’ defense and held that Dominion’s lawsuit is consistent with the First Amendment,” says Dominion Voting Systems.