A Delaware judge declined to toss out a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News filed by Dominion Voting Systems, which claims that the network “sold a false story of election fraud” in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential race.
The ruling on Fox News’ motion to dismiss means that Dominion’s litigation can proceed.
Judge Eric Davis wrote in his opinion that Dominion’s lawsuit “alleges facts that Fox made the challenged statements with knowledge of their falsity or with reckless disregard of their truth.”
He added, “The Complaint also alleges facts that there were signs indicating the reports were false. From these, the Court can infer that Fox intended to avoid the truth. Whether Dominion ultimately will prove Fox’s actual malice by clear and convincing evidence is irrelevant on a motion to dismiss. At this stage, it is reasonably conceivable that Dominion has a claim for defamation per se.”
In a statement, Fox News Media said, “As we have maintained, Fox News, along with every single news organization across the country, vigorously covered the breaking news surrounding the unprecedented 2020 election, providing full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear-cut analysis. We remain committed to defending against this baseless lawsuit and its all-out assault on the First Amendment.”
In refusing Fox News’ motion to dismiss, the judge ran through the specific allegations in the Dominion lawsuit, but wrote that “unless otherwise indicated, the following facts are stated as alleged in the Complaint. For purposes of the Motion, the Court must view all well-pled facts alleged in the Complaint as true and in a light most favorable to Dominion.” What it means is that the full conclusions on the merits of the case to come.
Dominion, which filed the lawsuit in March, alleged that in the aftermath of the election, in which Fox news was the first TV outlet to call the state of Arizona for Joe Biden, the network sought to “win back viewers” by “connecting Dominion with the false election fraud narrative.”
Among the instances singled out was a Nov. 8 edition of Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo, featuring guest Sidney Powell, who represented the Trump campaign. At one point, according to the lawsuit, Bartiromo asked Powell, “Sidney, we talked about the Dominion software. I know that there were voting irregularities. Tell me about that.” Powell responded, “That’s putting it mildly. . . . That is where the fraud took place, where they were flipping votes in the computer system or adding votes that did not exist. . . . That’s when they had to stop the vote count and go in and replace votes for Biden and take away Trump votes.”
Fox News also is defending itself in another lawsuit filed by a different election systems company, Smartmatic, which filed a $2.7 billion lawsuit against the network, three of its on-air personalities, Maria Bartiromo, Jeanie Pirro and Lou Dobbs, and two guests, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell. Fox also has moved to dismiss that case.
In November, Dominion also filed a lawsuit against Fox News parent Fox Corp., seeking to establish that Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch bore responsibility for what was said on the news network. The lawsuit appears to be an effort to force discovery of emails, texts and other records from the Murdochs.
More to come.
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