Dominion Voting Systems has been given the go-ahead to sue the parent company of Fox News, the Fox Corp. The $1.6 billion lawsuit accuses both Fox Corp. and its owners, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, of intentionally and knowingly spreading false claims that Dominion “stole” the election for Joe Biden. With Dominion meeting their burden of proof, Judge Eric Davis wrote:
“These allegations support a reasonable inference that Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch either knew Dominion had not manipulated the election or at least recklessly disregarded the truth when they allegedly caused Fox News to propagate its claims about Dominion.”
After a failed attempt to have the suit dismissed, Fox News – along with fellow right-wing media outlets OAN and Newsmax – will have to defend itself from allegations that, despite being asked to cease and desist, it continued to spread misinformation and lies about Dominion, giving a platform to election deniers and amplifying Trump’s “Big Lie.”
It’s a lie that not only crippled public faith in the fairness and accuracy of our elections — one of the bedrocks of this nation’s democracy — but led to an attempt to overthrow that democracy.
Fox News accuses the lawsuit of being an “attack” on the First Amendment and freedom of the press. But Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a constitutional law professor at Stetson University, disagrees. She cited Sarah Palin v. The New York Times, where the former Alaskan Governor sued for defamation – and lost. The difference is that the Times owned up to its error, and corrected it. But, according to Torres-Spelliscy:
“By contrast, Fox News kept up the bad behavior and repeatedly told myths about Dominion’s voting machines. This is likely why judges in several of these Dominion defamation cases have not dismissed them.”
While Fox News continued to push propaganda, lies, and misinformation, Judge Davis points out that Murdoch’s other media outlets – The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post – did the exact opposite, according to The Guardian, disputing Trump’s claims of election fraud and calling for him to concede.
Smartmatic is suing Fox News and Fox Corp. for $2.7 billion after false claims the voting machine company was somehow linked to dead Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chavez. They were ridiculous accusations but damaging nonetheless.
As the January 6th investigation continues, text messages between Fox News hosts and then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows have been released showing the close relationship between the Trump White House and the not-so-fair or balanced news outlet. As stated by Media Matters’ Angelo Carusone, “I think once you start to pull the discovery material, what you’re going to find is there was a lot of communication between the Trump people both internally and externally about pushing very specific lies and narratives.”
None of which will bode well for the defendants.
Perhaps a significant financial hit will inspire the Murdochs to change their ways and cease using their media outlets to spread self-serving lies.
Original reporting by Adam Gabbett at The Guardian.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick