'Serious threat': legal experts say 'explosive' filing against Fox News poses offers 'damning evidence'
Several legal experts say Dominion Voting Systems' new filing against Fox News for airing blatant lies about the 2020 election despite knowing the truth poses a "serious threat" to the conservative cable news channel, CNN reports.
This comes after the voting-tech company recently blasted Fox News "for failing to provide evidence of alleged voter fraud during the 2020 election." Dominion has filed a $1.6 billion defamation suit against the network, according to CNBC.
University of Utah professor and media law scholar RonNell Andersen Jones tells CNN the firm's legal filing is “pretty voluminous," adding she has "never seen" such a "staggering brief" such as this "in a high-profile defamation case against an outlet as enormous as Fox."
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Jones continued, "Dominion’s filing here is unique not just as to the volume of the evidence but also as to the directness of the evidence and the timeline of the evidence."
A cache of behind-the-scenes messages included in the legal filing showed Fox Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch called Trump’s claims “really crazy stuff,” and the cable network’s stars — including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham — brutally mock the lies being pushed by the former president’s camp asserting that the election was rigged.
It also showed attempts to crack down on fact-checking election lies. On one occasion, Carlson demanded that Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich be fired after she fact-checked a Trump tweet pushing election fraud claims.
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Still, Fox News insists, “Dominion has mischaracterized the record, cherry-picked quotes stripped of key context, and spilled considerable ink on facts that are irrelevant under black-letter principles of defamation law,” the network said. “Their motion for summary judgment takes an extreme and unsupported view of defamation law and rests on an accounting of the facts that has no basis in the record.”
Attorney Floyd Abrams says the filing is "a major blow" and asserts "recent revelations certainly put Fox in a more precarious situation.”
Additionally, Rebecca Tushnet, who is the Frank Stanton Professor of First Amendment Law at Harvard Law School, insists the firm's proof is "very strong," and vividly "lays out the difference between what Fox was saying publicly and what top people at Fox were privately admitting."
Tushnet also maintains she has "never see such damning evidence collected in the pre-trial phase of a defamation suit," saying “I don’t recall anything comparable to this." The professor added, "Donald Trump seems to be very good at generating unprecedented situations."
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Yet, the network characterizes the voting-tech company's filing as "noise and confusion," contending, "the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by New York Times v. Sullivan."
Still, Jones contends, "This 'out of the horse’s mouth' evidence of knowing falsity is not something we often see. When coupled with the compelling storyline that Dominion is telling about motivation — the evidence that at least some key players in the organization were actively looking to advance some election denialism in order to win back viewers who had departed — it makes for a strong actual malice storyline."
First Amendment law professor David Korzenik adds the filing puts the network "in real jeopardy," emphasizing "while the law allows for bias and ratings-seeking behavior by media outlets, it does not allow for the publication of material one knows to be false."
CNN's full report is available at this link.
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