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Fox and Dominion urged the judge to rule on the case

A Delaware judge overseeing Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News said in a preliminary hearing Tuesday that he is still considering whether a summary judgment should be filed for both sides in the case. Whether or not to issue a decision.

At a hearing in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday, attorneys for both Fox News and Dominion pushed Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis to rule on the case without a jury. Dominion, an election technology company, is accusing Fox of spreading false claims of widespread vote-rigging in the 2020 presidential election.

Judge Davis said, “I haven’t made a decision.”

The case focuses on Fox’s coverage of the 2020 election, when President Donald J. Trump and his supporters began spreading false claims about widespread voter fraud.

On Tuesday, Dominion argued that a trove of internal communications and statements showed that Fox executives and hosts knew some of the claims of election fraud were false, but gave them airtime nonetheless. Fox asked Judge Davis to dismiss the case outright, saying that her actions were protected by the First Amendment.

A trial is due to begin on April 17.

The lawsuit poses a major threat to Fox’s business and reputation. Dominion must prove that Fox knowingly broadcast false information about the company, or was negligent enough to disregard sufficient evidence that the claims were not true – a legal standard known as “actual malice”. . While defamation cases have traditionally proved difficult to win, legal experts say Dominion may have enough evidence to clear that high bar.

Documents from a lawsuit filed by voting machine maker Dominion against Fox News shed light on an ongoing debate within the network over false claims related to the 2020 election.

Justin Nelson, a lawyer for Dominion, told the court he had plenty of evidence Fox knew what he was doing.

For example, Mr. Nelson cited a statement by Fox News chief financial officer Joe Dorrego, who was asked whether top executives of Fox News’ parent company, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, knew the claims were being broadcast. Was on the network. Mr Dorrego replied: “They certainly knew the allegations were being made on Fox News.”

“He allowed people to get on the air to make false accusations,” Mr Nelson told the judge.

Erin Murphy, an attorney for Fox, argued in court Tuesday that a reasonable audience of Fox News and Fox Business would have understood that the hosts were merely reporting that the president and his lawyers were making fraudulent claims, which was newsworthy. , and not making factual statements.

Ms Murphy said, “We don’t feel we are exonerated just because a guest said something on behalf of the host.” “What we contend is that the Dominion’s position appears to be that we are automatically liable because a guest has said something.”

Ms Murphy told the judge that there were more references to the show and statements by Dominion in its complaint that proved the hosts were simply presenting statements of fact. As an example, she cited the December 12, 2020, broadcast of “Fox & Friends”, during which the hosts asked Mr. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani about legal challenges related to voter fraud.

“I don’t see how anyone watching that show would think that merely asking the president’s attorney ‘What are you alleging and what evidence do you have to support it?’ The hosts are saying that we believe these allegations to be true,” Ms. Murphy said.

Ms. Murphy said there was no evidence that any Fox Corporation executives were involved in the broadcast of the defamatory statements.

Fox’s attorneys will complete their closing arguments before the judge on Wednesday.


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