Rupert Murdoch’s testimony about Fox News’ 2020 election coverage might’ve undermined one of the network’s best defenses against the Dominion Voting Systems defamation lawsuit, a former federal prosecutor said.
Dominion is suing Fox for $1.6 billion after several hosts amplified conspiracy theories that its voting machines were used to rig the presidential election against Donald Trump.
Murdoch, chairman of News Corp, testified under oath in a January deposition that Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro all endorsed the false notion that the election had been stolen. He asserted that the false statements were endorsed by the hosts, not by Fox News as an entity.
“Rupert Murdoch’s testimony really guts what I think is the best potential defense here for Fox,” CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig said Wednesday on “The Situation Room,” according to a clip recorded by Mediaite. “Their defense ― they’ve articulated this ― is going to be: These were newsworthy comments by the then-president and his top advisers. We were simply reporting them.’”
“Now Murdoch has admitted ‘We endorse them,’ although he tried to draw this distinction between, well, not ‘we, Fox’ but ‘we, our top anchors,’” he added.
“But who is Fox News, who is any media corporation, if not the voices of its top journalists and reporters?”
In a lengthy statement issued after Murdoch’s testimony was made public, Fox News accused Dominion of smearing the network for “covering and commenting on allegations by a sitting President of the United States.”
Fox News also emailed key points from its opposition brief to HuffPost. Among its arguments was the claim that Dominion had taken an “extreme view of defamation law that would stop the media in its tracks” and prevent the press from covering newsworthy allegations from noteworthy figures.