Fox News Media, the cable group controlled by Rupert Murdoch, on Tuesday filed a motion dismissal of a $ 1.6 billion defamation suit in March spreading lies by Dominion Voting Systems, an electoral technology company that accused Fox News who had ruined his reputation, had filed against them in the 2020 presidential election.
The Dominion lawsuit and a similar defamation lawsuit filed in February by another electoral company, Smartmatic, have been widely viewed as test cases to combat disinformation in the news media. And it’s another by-product of former President Donald J. Trump’s baseless attempts to undermine President Biden’s clear victory.
In a 61-page response filed with the Delaware Supreme Court, Fox’s legal team argues that Dominion’s lawsuit threatened a news organization’s powers to first adjust to record and evaluate recent allegations in a high-stakes political competition.
“A free press must be able to cover both sides of a story that involves allegations that go to the very core of our democracy,” says Fox in the motion, “especially when those allegations are numerous lawsuits, government inquiries and Eliciting recounts of elections. ” The motion adds, “The American people deserve to know why President Trump refused to admit despite his apparent loss.”
Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox News presented the situation in a different light.
Dominion is one of the largest manufacturers of voting machines, and its technology has been used by more than two dozen states in the past year. In his lawsuit, the Fox News and Fox Business cable networks were described as active participants in spreading a false claim made by Mr. Trump’s allies that the company had covertly changed the number of votes to get the results in Mr. Trump’s favor Manipulate Biden. Mr. Trump’s attorneys shared these claims during television interviews on Fox programs.
“Lies have consequences,” wrote Dominion attorneys in their first complaint. “Fox sold a false story of electoral fraud for its own commercial purposes, seriously injuring Dominion in the process.” The lawsuit cites cases where Fox hosts, including Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, uncritically repeated false claims made about Dominion by Mr. Trump’s attorneys Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell.
A representative from Dominion, whose founders and employees received threatening messages after the negative coverage, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday evening.
Fox News Media has hired two prominent lawyers to lead the defense: Charles Babcock, who has a background in media law, and Scott Keller, former chief attorney for Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas. Fox has also moved to dismiss the lawsuit against Smartmatic. This defense is led by Paul D. Clement, a former attorney general under President George W. Bush.
“Every story has two sides,” Babcock and Keller wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “The press must remain free to cover both sides, otherwise there will be no more free press.”
Tuesday’s Fox motion argues that its networks “had the right to freedom of expression to question the president’s lawyers and deputies, even if their allegations ultimately turned out to be unfounded.” It is argued that the security of Dominion technology had been discussed in previous legal claims and media coverage, and that the lawsuit did not meet the high legal standard of “actual malice,” a reckless disregard for the truth on the part of Fox News and its own Host.
Media organizations generally enjoy strong protection under the First Amendment. Defamation suits are a novel tactic in the battle over disinformation, but proponents say the strategy has shown some early results. Conservative Newsmax news agency apologized last month after a Dominion official in a separate lawsuit accused the network of spreading unsubstantiated rumors about its role in the election. Fox Business canceled “Lou Dobbs Tonight” the day after Smartmatic’s lawsuit against Fox in February, naming Mr. Dobbs as a co-defendant.
Jonah E. Bromwich contributed to the coverage.