The $1.6 billion Dominion Voting Systems defamation lawsuit against Fox News was set to go to trial in Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday, and several of the network’s hosts — past and present — have been sounding off ahead of the opening gavel.
At issue is whether Fox News should be held financially responsible for alleged “false” claims it made after the 2020 elections in which the network suggested that Dominion’s voting machines rigged the race in favor of Joe Biden.
(Video: Fox News)
To win their case, Dominion must prove that Fox News acted with intended malice when they aired their claims, a bar “MediaBuzz” host Howard Kurtz called “very high” during a three-minute rundown of the pre-trial hearings on Sunday’s show.
Nevertheless, Kurtz, who will be covering the trial, said, “It’s been a very rough week for Fox.”
“Let’s face it, much of the mainstream media is rather openly rooting for Fox to lose,” Kurtz told viewers. “I can assure you that I will provide fair and down-the-middle coverage of this $1.6 billion suit about coverage of false election fraud claims in 2020, despite the fact that I work here. And with that, it’s been a very rough week for Fox.”
Last week, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis sanctioned Fox News, saying that the network “didn’t disclose that Rupert Murdoch has two titles, Chairman of Fox Corporation and Executive Chairman at Fox News.” For that, Fox’s attorney apologized for the “misunderstanding.”
More concerning, the judge said he would “likely start an investigation” into whether Fox withheld material evidence, citing tapes of Maria Bartiromo produced by former Fox News producer Abby Grossberg, who is also suing the network. For that, Davis said, the network could face a special master probe.
The judge also ruled that “Fox cannot argue that it carried false allegations of election fraud by Trump allies because they were newsworthy.”
“Just because something is newsworthy doesn’t mean you can defame someone,” Davis said, according to Kurtz.
He also cautioned Dominion from bringing up the events of January 6th at the Capitol “except in the most narrow circumstances,” as those notorious events are not part of this trial.
Fox News producer unleashes explosive allegations in new lawsuit against network https://t.co/hlJLhh0G0x pic.twitter.com/tZr1vLsYCZ
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) March 22, 2023
“Dominion’s lawsuit is a political crusade in search of a financial windfall, but the real cost would be cherished First Amendment rights,” Fox News said in a statement that Kurtz read. “While Dominion has pushed irrelevant and misleading information to generate headlines, FOX News remains steadfast in protecting the rights of a free press, given a verdict for Dominion and its private equity owners would have grave consequences for the entire journalism profession.”
On the Thursday edition of “The Mark Levin Show” on Westwood One, Levin cited a recent Mediate article that covered Judge Davis’s sarcastic quip about Bartiromo.
“She’s clearly neutral,” he said, adding, “She’s clearly neutral. I’m being sarcastic. Clearly not neutral.”
“So here’s the judge who’s supposed to be impartial, who clearly is not by his own words, and I would argue by his rulings,” Levin stated.
He called on Judge Davis to “step aside,” claiming he’s “small potatoes.”
“Judge, why don’t you step aside? This is the big leagues,” Levin said. “You may not be able to handle this. It’s gonna go all the way to the US Supreme Court. I haven’t talked to any of the Fox lawyers or the Fox executives on this one. I’m just saying as a lawyer, this is — you’re small potatoes. This is in your courtroom. You’re making a clown show of the thing. You’re obviously biased and partisan the way that you’re ruling.”
(Audio Clip: Media Matters)
Meanwhile, in a blog posted to his website, former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly examined the word “malice” — which he stated is, in legal terms, a “reckless disregard for the truth” — and slammed what is already “malicious” coverage by the mainstream media.
“Now, it would be grossly irresponsible for anyone to convict Fox News without hearing cross-examined sworn testimony in court,” O’Reilly wrote. “But that’s exactly what is happening, as every single corporate news agency in America has already convicted FNC and is openly rooting for the Delaware jury to do the same.”
“Malice?” he asked. “You betcha.”
An example. CNN reporter Oliver Darcy wrote a hate Fox column that accused FNC of a legacy of deceit. I’ve dealt with Darcy in the past, and he is a malicious guy, in my opinion. He’s also a leftist zealot, and that drives his animus toward FNC.
You may remember that CNN gleefully reported falsehoods for years regarding Russia and the Trump political machine. There was little balance, and the accusations of wrongdoing were non-stop. But when the Mueller federal investigation exposed the “Russian Collusion” hoax, Darcy and his network went largely silent. CNN did fire Darcy’s pal Brian Stelter but old Oliver survived.
The often controversial commentator stressed that he despises “what aboutism,” and his analysis isn’t that.
“No, if a jury finds Fox News guilty of defamation, that will stand in this precinct,” he wrote.
“But everyone should know that the FNC trial will be covered with malice by many in the media. The verdict has already been rendered in the libel world – the actual trial is a mere formality,” he stated. “And that’s pretty malicious, is it not?”
Though the trial should have gotten underway on Monday, late on Sunday, Judge Davis, without giving a reason, announced that jury selection and opening statements would be delayed until Tuesday.
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