Dominion Voting Systems has been granted permission to sue the Fox Corp., the parent company of the Fox News media outlet. The $1.6 billion lawsuit claims both the Fox Corp. and its owners, Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch, knowingly and intentionally disseminated false claims that Dominion had “stolen” the election for Biden. With Dominion having met their burden of evidence, Judge Eric Davis wrote:
“These claims support the notion that Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch either knew Dominion did not rig the election or at least carelessly dismissed reality when they allegedly encouraged Fox News to spread its allegations about dominion.”
Fox News and other right-wing media organizations such as OAN and Newsmax will have to defend themselves against claims that, despite being requested to cease and desist, they continued spreading lies and misinformation about Dominion, giving the election deniers a platform, and amplifying Trump’s “Big Lie.”
It was a lie that not only damaged public confidence in the honesty and accuracy of our elections – one of the foundations of this country’s democracy – but also inspired an attempt to overthrow it.
Fox News characterizes the lawsuit as an “assault” on the First Amendment and press freedom. However, Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a constitutional law professor, disagrees. She referred to Palin v. The New York Times, where she sued for defamation – and lost. The key distinction is that the Times acknowledged its mistake and corrected it. According to Torres-Spelliscy:
“In contrast, Fox News continued to engage in unethical conduct, repeating false rumors about Dominion’s voting systems. This is why several of these Dominion defamation lawsuits have not been dismissed by judges.”
According to The Guardian, Murdoch’s other media companies – the Wall Street Journal and The New York Post – did the exact opposite, disputing Trump’s assertions of election fraud and calling for him to concede, while Fox News continued to promote propaganda, lies, and misinformation.
After false allegations that the voting machine company was somehow connected to dead Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chavez, Fox News and Fox Corporation are being sued for $2.7 billion by Smartmatic. It was a preposterous claim, but it did harm regardless.
Text messages between then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Fox News hosts have been published, revealing the close ties between the Trump administration and a not-so-fair or balanced news source. “I think after you start pulling through the discovery material, what you are going to discover is there was a lot of communication back and forth externally and internally about pushing specific narratives and lies,” said Media Matters’ Angelo Carusone.
None of which bodes well for the defendants. Perhaps a large financial penalty will persuade the Murdochs to mend their ways and stop using their news outlets to spread self-serving lies.