A judge who presided over the defamation case against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems ruled this week that the parent company of the cable channel, Fox Corporation, could be involved in the case, extending the possible legal exposure to the highest ranks of the Fox media empire.
Dominion had claimed that Fox Corporation was also part of the lawsuit because its two most senior executives, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, “played a direct role in participating in, approving and controlling” statements that contained false views of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election feeds. election.
In a ruling, Judge Eric M. Davis of Delaware Superior Court ruled that Dominion had “adequately pleaded” facts to support its claim that Fox Corporation was “directly liable” for what Fox News put into the air. He reasoned that the Murdochs were widely known for having a hand in forming Fox News coverage. Judge Davis also said it was reasonable to conclude that Fox Corporation “participated in the creation and publication of defamatory statements by Fox News.”
The Dominion lawsuit against Fox News, filed in March 2021, seeks at least $ 1.6 billion in damages.
“The truth matters,” Dominion’s lawyers wrote in their first complaint. “Lies have consequences. Fox sold a false story of election fraud to serve its own commercial purposes, seriously injuring Dominion in the process. If this case does not reach the level of defamation by a broadcaster, then it does nothing.”
Fox News and its parent company have denied that the allegations were defamatory in the first place, arguing that what was said on Fox broadcasts about Dominion was in part a protected expression of opinion. Recordings were several unsubstantiated from Fox News hosts and guests who were somehow complicit in a concerted vote of former President Donald J. Trump.
Separately, Judge Davis denied a request from Dominion to extend his case to Fox Broadcasting, the television brand’s television and entertainment division that is home to shows including “MasterChef” and “The Simpsons.”
Fox News decided to dismiss the Dominion case late last year, but that motion was rejected.
The lawsuit is in its infancy, the trial in which Dominion lawyers came through internal Fox communications in search of evidence. Dominion’s lawyers will have to prove that people in the network are acting with “real malice”, which means that they either knew that the registrants against Dominion were false or that they recklessly denied facts that they had shown to be false.