A Dominion Voting Systems court filing released publicly on Thursday includes numerous quotes from Fox Corp and Fox News players in support of Dominion’s contention that the news network repeatedly broadcast lies about Dominion having participated in voter fraud schemes during the 2020 election, despite knowing that the statements were lies.
“From the top down, Fox knew the dominion stuff’ was ‘total bs,’" Dominion stated in the redacted filing, citing a sealed exhibit and others. “Yet despite knowing the truth — or at minimum, recklessly disregarding that truth — Fox spread and endorsed these ‘outlandish voter fraud claims’ about Dominion even as it internally recognized the lies as ‘crazy,’ ‘absurd,’ and ‘shockingly reckless.’ The colorful choices of words used by so many Fox employees all try to capture the same basic truth about these inherently improbable allegations: These claims were false, and obviously so.”
Dominion, which is seeking $1.6 billion in damages in the defamation lawsuit, filed a motion asking the court to find in its favor now, through a summary judgment. If summary judgment is not granted by the Superior Court of Delaware, a trial is scheduled to begin in mid April.
Fox, which has argued throughout the process that its reporting on the voting fraud claims, like other political reporting, was protected by the First Amendment, released a statement in response to the filing’s release: “There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners, but the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by New York Times v. Sullivan.”
Dominion’s lawyers have deposed dozens of high-level Fox Corp and Fox News executives and other employees as they seek evidence that Fox knowingly broadcast false statements or acted with “reckless disregard for the truth” — the high bar of actual malice that must be met to win a defamation suit against the press or public figures.
Among the many comments cited in the document, from depositions or other sources: Fox Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch stating “Terrible stuff damaging everybody, I fear,” after watching Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell make charges of voter fraud on Fox on November 19, 2020. That was followed by a reply from Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott: “Yes [Fox News host] Sean [Hannity] and even [Jeanine] Pirro agrees.”
Another from the same date: Fox News host Tucker Carlson telling host Laura Ingraham: “Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane.” Ingraham’s reply: “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy.” Carlson’s reply: “It’s unbelievably offensive to me. Our viewers are good people and they believe it.”
On November 21, Carlson texted to a person whose name is redacted that it was “shockingly reckless” to claim that Dominion rigged the election if “there’s no one inside the company willing to talk, or internal Dominion documents or copies of the software showing that they did it”… and “as you know there isn’t.”
Dominion argues that, while no motive is required to prove its case, there was a motive behind Fox News’s broadcasting about voter fraud claims: The network sought to win back Trump-loving viewers’ favor after viewership was negatively impacted following the network’s correct first call on election night of Arizona having been won by Joe Biden.
The filing contains numerous quotes from Fox hosts and executives commenting on the ratings and the need to remedy it quickly.
On Nov. 12, Carlson urged Ingraham and Fox News host Sean Hannity to get Jacqui Heinrich — a Fox reporter who had tweeted a fact-check of a Trump tweet by pointing out that there was no evidence of voter fraud by Dominion — fired. “It needs to stop immediately, like tonight," he wrote. "It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.” Heinrich deleted her tweet by the next morning, according to the New York Times.
In December, Fox News Washington, D.C., Managing Editor Bill Sammon commented to Fox Political Editor Chris Stirewalt on the network’s coverage of “supposed election fraud”: “It’s remarkable how weak ratings make... good journalists do bad things.” (Both Sammon and Stirewalt -- who made the Arizona election call -- were subsequently fired.)
In addition to its statement above, Fox asserted in emailed statements that Dominion’s motion “takes an extreme and unsupported view of defamation law and rests on an accounting of the facts that has no basis in the record,” and that the motion has “mischaracterized the record, cherry-picked quotes stripped of key context, and spilled considerable ink on facts that are irrelevant under black-letter principles of defamation law.”
Fox added that Dominion has for now refused to let Fox make its formal response to Dominion’s motion public, and that the reasons for that refusal will “be clear when the public response is finally released on February 27.”
Fox also filed an amended counterclaim on Thursday disputing Dominion’s $1.6-billion damages claim, asserting that it “has no connection to Dominion’s financial value as a company or any supposed injury it suffered as a result of [Fox News Network’s] reporting.”
Fox says that Staple Street Capital Investors, which paid $38.3 million for a $76.2 stake in Dominion in 2018, has estimated Dominion’s value at $80 million at most. Fox also asserts that documents produced in discovery show that Dominion “is in a solid financial position,” and that there is no evidence that Dominion has lost clients due to Fox reporting.
Dominion lawsuit is baseless and without merit and Fox News is right freedom of the press and free speech which Fox News is protected from this lawsuit should've been thrown out and shouldn't have gotten this far in my opinion.