Dominion V. Fox News Defamation Trial Begins This Week

What is Fox saying?

In a brief filed by Fox, the company held that it aired the claims of rigged voting machines because they came from a sitting president and people close to him and thus were newsworthy.

“An attempt by a sitting President to challenge election results and reverse the outcome of his re-election bid is as newsworthy as it gets,” the filing states. “Media outlets around the country and the world thus provided extensive coverage of and commentary on the President’s allegations and lawsuits.”

Fox maintained that “Fox News fulfilled its commitment to inform fully and comment fairly,” adding that “Some hosts viewed the President’s claims skeptically; others viewed them hopefully; all recognized them as profoundly newsworthy.”

The network alleges that it covered Dominion’s denials and gave the company opportunities to tell its side. 

“In short, Fox News did exactly what the First Amendment protects: It ensured that the public had access to newsmakers and newsworthy information that would help foster “uninhibited, robust, and wide-open” debate on rapidly developing events of unparalleled importance,” the court filing by Fox’s lawyers states. 

Fox also claims that “Dominion’s lawsuit is an assault on the First Amendment and the free press.”

Who is expected to take the stand?

According to the Associated Press, Carlson, Hannity, and Murdoch are expected to testify. Many also believe that Pirro, Scott, and former host Lou Dobbs will also take the stand. 

Will you be able to watch it on TV?

No cameras will be allowed, per the Delaware court policy, and the judge recently denied a request by media companies to broadcast audio excerpts.

What are the possible outcomes?

If Fox loses, the company will likely be stuck with a steep payout, its stock price could take a hit, and its reputation would be damaged. Fox News has argued that if it loses, the case will hurt press freedoms and the First Amendment. 

“A free-flowing, robust American discourse depends on First Amendment protections for the press’ news gathering and reporting,” a Fox Network spokesperson said in a statement to the New York Times

If Dominion loses, it would not only uphold the extremely high bar for media defamation, but it might prompt Fox News and other networks to broadcast even more falsities in the future. 

“If Fox loses, one thing that it says is that there are limits to propaganda, to lying on television…to misinforming your viewers,” Jay Rosen, professor of journalism at New York University, told CNN. “If Fox wins, it kinda says the opposite, there are no limits.”

Whatever happens in the Dominion trial, it’s far from the end of Fox News’ problems. In 2021, Smartmatic, a global technology company from London, also filed a $2.7 billion defamation suit against Fox News and Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and Dobbs. 

The lawsuit came after the network broadcasted a series of false claims concerning Smartmatic voting machines and the 2020 election. Around a month ago, the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan gave the go-ahead for the Smartmatic case to proceed. 

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