Fox and Friends Face Billion-Dollar US Election Fraud Lawsuits | FoxNews
In the months following the 2020 US presidential election, right-wing television news in America was a wild west, a seemingly lawless free-for-all where conspiracy theories about voting machines, suitcases full of ballots and dead Venezuelan leaders were repeated to viewers around the clock.
There seemed to be little consequence in peddling the most outrageous ideas on prime time.
But now, unfortunately for Fox News, One America News Network (OAN) and Newsmax, it turns out that this brave new world was not free from legal jurisdiction – with all three networks now facing billion dollar lawsuits. dollars following their baseless accusations.
In June, Dominion Voting Systems, which has provided voting machines to 28 states, was given the green light sue Fox Corpthe parent company of Fox News, in a case that could bring Rupert Murdoch and his son, Lachlan, into the spotlight.
In the $1.6 billion lawsuit, Dominion accuses Fox Corp, and the Murdochs in particular, of allowing Fox News to amplify false claims that the polling company rigged Joe Biden’s election.
Fox Corp had tried to have the lawsuit dismissed, but a Delaware judge said Dominion had presented sufficient evidence for the lawsuit to continue. Dominion is already suing Fox News, as well as OAN and Newsmax.
“These allegations support a reasonable inference that Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch either knew Dominion did not manipulate the election or at least recklessly ignored the truth when they allegedly pushed Fox News to propagate its claims about Dominion,” the report said. Judge Eric Davis. said.
Davis’ decision is not a guarantee that Fox will be held liable. But the judge made it clear that this was not a frivolous attempt on Dominion’s part – and media and legal experts believe Fox could be in serious trouble.
“Dominion has a very strong case against Fox News — and against OAN for that matter,” said Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a professor who teaches constitutional law. at Stetson University and a colleague at Brennan Center for Justicea nonpartisan law and policy institute.
“The reason Dominion is suing is that Fox and other right-wing media repeated vicious lies that Dominion voting machines stole the 2020 election from Trump for Biden. But all those Dominion machine conspiracy theories were rubbish, and Fox, as a news agency, should have known that and not given this aspect of the big lie a megaphone.
“What’s particularly bad for Fox is [that] Dominion demanded that they stop and correct the record in real time, and Fox persisted in spreading false claims about the voting machine company.
Indeed, in his ruling, Davis noted that “other newspapers under Rupert Murdoch’s control, including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, have condemned President Trump‘s claims and urged him to concede defeat. “.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Fox News said, “Limiting the ability of the press to report freely on the American electoral process stands in stark contrast to the freedoms on which this nation was founded, and we believe we do so.” We will prevail in this case, because the First Amendment is the foundation of our democracy and the freedom of the press must be protected.
A potential precedent in the Dominion v. Fox case could be found in a recent case involving Sarah Palin, who sued The New York Times. Palin claimed the paper maliciously damaged her reputation by falsely linking her campaign rhetoric to a mass shooting. In February a jury has settled with the Times, finding that a Times employee had not acted with “actual malice” against a public figure or with a “reckless disregard” for the truth – the criteria necessary to prove defamation.
But The Times’ win shouldn’t give Fox too much hope, Torres-Spelliscy said.
“In the Palin case, The New York Times quickly corrected the error about Palin that was added in the editorial,” Torres-Spelliscy said.
“In contrast, Fox News maintained the bad behavior and repeatedly repeated myths about Dominion voting machines. This is probably the reason why the judges in several of these Dominion libel cases did not dismiss them.
Dominion isn’t the only company seeking damages from Fox and his contemporaries.
Smartmatic, an election software company that provided voting software for precisely a count in the 2020 elections, but fell victim to allegations that it was founded “for the specific purpose of rigging elections” by associates of Hugo Chavez, the former president of Venezuela who died in 2013, is to chase Fox Corp, Fox News and associates for $2.7 billion.
Still, Fox News is the most-watched and arguably most influential cable news channel in the United States, and is probably too big to fail.
But this is not the case for the small right-wing networks OAN and Newsmax, which are also both to be prosecuted by Dominion and Smartmatic – in June, a Delaware judge refuse Newsmax’s motion to have the Dominion case dismissed, but did not weigh in on Newsmax’s innocence or guilt.
“I think OAN is going to be wiped out of court costs. Forget any judgment,” said Angelo Carusone, President and CEO of Media matters to Americawho monitors the right-wing media.
“We have already started to see them cut programs, they have laid off staff, they have reduced the number of programs. So it’s pretty clear that they don’t have enough resources to deal with protracted litigation.
Newsmax, which is still carried by DirecTV, is “relatively cash flush” compared to OAN, Carusone said — enough to survive a lawsuit, if not pay the billions of dollars Dominion and Smartmatic are seeking.
In a statement, Newsmax said it had “reported on the allegations made by President Trump and his surrogates and at no time have we reported that these allegations were true. We have also reported on criticism of Trump’s claims. “.
He added: “The Dominion trial is an assault on a free press and endangers all news outlets if it were to prevail.”
OAN did not respond to a request for comment.
As for Fox, the bigger thing could be if the Murdochs are subject to discovery — where they and Fox could be forced to hand over documents potentially including communications data — as part of the legal process, Carusone said.
Text messages obtained by the commission on January 6 have already revealed that there had been communication between Fox News hosts and White House officials regarding the insurrection – and it seems unlikely that this was the only thing that was discussed.
“I think once you start pulling the discovery material, what you’re going to find is that there’s been a lot of communication between Trump people both internally and externally to push very specific lies and narratives,” Carusone said.
Although Fox is better off financially than OAN and NewsMax, it is not invulnerable. Fox News is due to renegotiate its contracts with the cable companies at the end of this year, and Carusone said the cable companies could use the lawsuit to drive down prices.
The Dominion and Smartmatic cases are likely to drag on for some time, and it remains to be seen how Fox News, OAN and NewsMax will respond.
As for the conspiratorial allegations of news channels on electoral fraud, this is at least one thing that has already been settled.
Courts, Ministry of Justice, election officials investigated and rejected the charges, as does the US Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
“The November 3 election was the safest in American history,” the agency said. said in a statement in 2020.
“While we know there are many unsubstantiated allegations and opportunities for misinformation about our election process, we can assure you that we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should also.”
William Barr, Trump’s attorney general, put it in somewhat less sophisticated terms.
Election interference allegations, Barr Told the committee of January 6, were “bullshit”.