Dominion libel case against Fox to go to trial
A voting machine company’s defamation case against Fox News for broadcasting false claims about the 2020 presidential election will go to trial after a Delaware judge ruled on Friday that a jury must decide whether the network broadcast the allegations with real malice, the standard for proving defamation against public figures.
Superior Court Judge Eric Davis ruled that neither Fox nor Dominion Voting Systems made a compelling case to determine whether Fox acted maliciously without the case going to trial.
But he also ruled that the statements Dominion challenged constituted defamation “per se” under New York law. This means that Dominion did not have to prove damages to establish Fox’s liability.
“The evidence developed in this civil proceeding demonstrates that [it] is CRYSTAL clear that none of the statements relating to Dominion regarding the 2020 election are true,” Davis wrote in his summary judgment decision.
The decision paves the way for a trial start in mid-April.
Dominion is suing the network for $1.6 billion, claiming Fox defamed it by repeatedly airing false allegations of then-President Donald Trump and his allies in the weeks following the Washington election. 2020, claiming that the company’s machines and accompanying software transferred the votes to Democrat Joe Biden.
The network released the claims even though internal communications show many of its executives and hosts did not believe them.
The company sued Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corp. Fox said she was simply covering up newsworthy allegations made by a sitting president that his re-election was stolen from him. In her ruling, Davis said Fox could not escape potential liability by claiming privileges for neutral reporting or opinion.
“FNN’s failure to uncover extensive conflicting evidence from the public sphere and Dominion itself indicates that its reporting was not disinterested,” Judge wrote.
In a statement released after the decision, Dominion said it was satisfied that the court rejected Fox’s arguments and found “in law that their statements about Dominion are false. We look forward to the trial.”
Fox pointed out that the case is about the media’s First Amendment protections in news coverage.
“Fox will continue to fiercely defend the rights to free speech and a free press as we enter the next phase of these proceedings,” the network said in a statement.
The coverage fueled an ecosystem of misinformation surrounding Trump’s 2020 loss that has persisted ever since.