Politics2020 Election


Dominion v. Fox News: 2020 election defamation trial begins Tuesday

Over the next few weeks, Rupert Murdoch, as well as Fox News personalities Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, are expected to testify.
Posted at 7:44 PM, Apr 16, 2023

Did Fox News defame Dominion Voting Systems?

That’s what a jury will begin to consider when the landmark, consequential trial between the two begins Tuesday, barring any last-minute settlements. 

The $1.6 billion lawsuit pits one company against another, but the issues at the heart of the trial could have wide-ranging implications. Among those issues are the spread of misinformation and freedom of the press.

The case is about whether Fox defamed Dominion by deciding to air baseless claims and conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election being rigged.

The claims were first made by former President Donald Trump, and his claims were repeated on air by Fox News personalities to their viewers.

Dominion says Fox News damaged the company by repeatedly airing unfounded allegations, such as the following:

"Electronic voting machines didn't allow people to vote, apparently. And that, whatever you think of it, the cause of it, it shakes people's faith in the system. That is an actual threat to democracy," said host Tucker Carlson on November 8, 2020.

Through the discovery process of this case, we've learned that many Fox executives, producers, and hosts didn't believe the allegations they were making on television.

For one, Carlson texted a producer, "Sidney Powell is lying," in regard to supposed evidence of election fraud that Powell—a former Trump lawyer—claimed to have.

Another host, Laura Ingraham, wrote to Carlson and Sean Hannity that Powell was "a bit nuts. Sorry, but she is."

The head of Fox himself, Rupert Murdoch, called what Powell and Rudy Giuliani were saying "terrible stuff damaging everybody, I fear." Murdoch also referred to it as "really crazy stuff."

A person walks past the Fox News Headquarters

Jury selection begins in Dominion Voting Systems, Fox News trial

Dominion is seeking $1.6B in compensation after Fox News refused to retract its false statements about the company rigging votes in the 2020 election.


Murdoch, under oath, also said that in hindsight, he would have liked his network to be "stronger" in denouncing election denial.

"With Rupert Murdoch, he is where the entire organization rots from. He confessed in a deposition that he could have stopped this madness, but he chose not to. That's a tremendously incriminating comment, at least journalistically," said Erik Wemple, the Washington Post's media critic.

NPR mediacorrespondent David Folkenflik recently wrote about the "amount and weight of evidence" in the trial.

Folkenflik cited a Rutgers University law professor with expertise in constitutional and media law, saying, "How often do you get 'smoking gun' emails that show, first, that persons responsible for the editorial content knew that the accusation was false, and also convincing emails that show the reason Fox reported this was for its own mercenary interests?"

Dominion is alleging Fox went ahead with broadcasting the lies anyway in an effort to keep viewers watching.

But the burden of proof is high; Dominion must prove the network acted with "actual malice."

Fox denies any wrongdoing and says the lawsuit is an attack on the First Amendment.

On Friday, Fox News reportedly apologized to the judge overseeing the case.

In previous court filings, lawyers for the right-wing network repeatedly said Rupert Murdoch didn’t have an official title specifically at Fox News, but then Fox disclosed he was an executive officer there.

An attorney reportedly called it a "misunderstanding."

The presiding judge, Eric M. Davis, had already admonished Fox lawyers for potentially withholding evidence and said he wanted to appoint a special master, in other words, an outside attorney, to investigate and look into potential sanctions.

"The Court has decided to continue the start of the trial, including jury selection, until Tuesday, April 18, 2023 at 9:00 a.m.," Judge Davis said in a statement sent to Scripps News.