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Update: A statement from Dominion has been amended to this post.
Fox News has filed a motion calling for a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems to be dismissed on the grounds that its “responsible journalists” did nothing wrong when they covered “both sides” of the 2020 election fiasco.
“A free press must be able to report both sides of a story involving claims striking at the core of our democracy — especially when those claims prompt numerous lawsuits, government investigations, and election recounts,” the motion reads.
“When a sitting President of the United States and his legal team challenge a presidential election in litigation throughout the nation, the media can truthfully report and comment on those allegations under the First Amendment without fear of liability. Plaintiffs’ defamation lawsuit against Fox News threatens to stifle the media’s free-speech right to inform the public about newsworthy allegations of paramount public concern,” the motion continues.
At issue is Fox News’ willingness to offer fair and impartial coverage to then-President Donald Trump’s allegations that voter fraud and voting irregularities had impacted the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
While those allegations were ultimately never substantiated — much like the Russian collusion delusion hoax and conspiracy theory that was broadcast for years straight by the mainstream press — Fox News argues it wasn’t improper to air and discuss them.
View the motion below or access it here:
“The news media has the right in a democracy to inform citizens by reporting and commenting on a President’s allegations challenging the security of our elections,” the motion continues.
It further notes that Fox News’ journalists didn’t just blindly accept Trump’s allegations. They pushed back on them — and in doing so, often provoked anger from the president’s top staff members.
Case in point:
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) November 20, 2020
“Fox and other media throughout the world truthfully reported the newsworthy claims by President Trump and his legal team. Fox hosts responsibly covered the controversy, repeatedly pressing the President’s attorneys, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, for evidence substantiating their allegations,” the motion reads.
As for the legal basis for their dismissal, Fox News cites the fact that nothing in the First Amendment or New York law (though the defamation suit was filed in Delaware, Fox News has argued that all its broadcasts occur in New York) states that, in covering unconfirmed allegations, journalists must state unequivocally that the allegations are false.
“Dominion confuses the obligation to truthfully report allegations with a purported requirement that the media rebut their underlying falsity. No such duty exists under the First Amendment or New York law,” the motion notes.
“The press can safely cover both sides and interview newsmakers without endorsing everything they say. The freedoms of speech and press would be illusory if the prevailing party could obtain billions of dollars from the press for providing the losing side a forum,” it adds.
Indeed, without the ability of the press to cover both sides, “there will be a press no more,” the suit notes.
Of course, this is exactly what some members of the mainstream press desire:
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) April 1, 2021
The motion then pivots to talking about Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro, three of its hosts that are currently facing lawsuits for their reporting on alleged voter fraud and voting irregularities.
The motion argues that the three had simply gone “straight to the newsmakers connected to those lawsuits” and “interviewed the President’s lawyers, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, about their vote-fraud allegations concerning Dominion.”
“Fox hosts regularly and accurately introduced Giuliani and Powell as members of the President’s legal team, pressed them for supporting evidence, informed viewers of Dominion’s denials, and called for deeper investigation by authorities,” the motion notes.
Moreover, the hosts sometimes “expressed skepticism about the allegations against Dominion, highlighting the lack of supporting evidence.”
The network’s top-performing host, Tucker Carlson, provoked widespread anger among the then-president’s supporters when he questioned Powell’s noted lack of substantive evidence.
“We invited Sidney Powell on this show, we would’ve given her the whole hour, we would’ve given her the entire week and listen quietly the whole time at rapt attention — that is a big story. But she never sent us any evidence despite a lot of requests, polite requests, not a page. When we kept pressing she got angry and told us to stop contacting her,” he said.
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) November 20, 2020
Filed in March, the suit by Dominion accuses Fox News of peddling “lies” and claims that “these lies deeply damaged Dominion’s once-thriving business.”
“These lies also have threatened the personal safety of our employees and customers. No amount of money will repair the damage done,” Dominion CEO John Poulos said in a statement at the time.
The suit nevertheless seeks $1.6 billion in damages.
In a statement to BizPac Review issued after the original publication of the report, a Dominion spokesperson said, “Dominion strongly supports free speech, but defamation for commercial gain is clearly not protected, and we intend to hold FOX accountable for its reckless disregard for the truth. This case will strengthen the First Amendment, not weaken it.”
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