Fox News and Dominion spar in new legal filings
New docs show Tucker Carlson texted colleague he hates Trump ‘passionately’
Dominion Voting Systems and Fox News traded barbs in new court filings Wednesday, with the election technology company accusing Fox of wanting a “license to knowingly spread lies,” and the right-wing channel claiming the lawsuit is an “unprecedented assault on the First Amendment.”
The filings tee up a high-stakes hearing in two weeks, where a Delaware state judge will hear arguments on “summary judgment” — or whether he should decide the case before it goes to trial. Most legal experts expect that the case will ultimately proceed to trial before a jury in mid-April.
Dominion asked the judge to decide the case in their favor because, in their view, Fox has already conceded that its on-air statements about Dominion rigging the 2020 election were false.
“Fox has produced no evidence — none, zero — supporting those lies,” Dominion said. “This concession should come as no surprise. Discovery into Fox has proven that from the top of the organization to the bottom, Fox always knew the absurdity of the Dominion ‘stolen election’ story.”
“Fox seeks a First Amendment license to knowingly spread lies,” Dominion added, rejecting Fox’s argument that the election-rigging allegations were “newsworthy” and thus protected under the First Amendment.
The company continued, “if Fox cared about the truth that it now acknowledges, Fox would have its top personalities reporting that truth to its audience. Today. If not for Dominion’s sake, then for the sake of the significant percentage of Americans who still wrongly believe the 2020 election was stolen — including so many of Fox’s own loyal viewers, who heard it over and over again on Fox’s airwaves.”
In response, Fox News described Dominion’s lawsuit as an “unprecedented effort to punish the press for covering and commenting on the most newsworthy story of the day.” Lawyers for the right-wing network said Dominion’s defamation allegations have “no basis in law or fact.”
“This effort to publicly smear a media organization just for having the temerity to cover and comment on allegations being pressed by the sitting President of the United States should be now recognized for what it is: a blatant violation of the First Amendment,” Fox News said.
Thousands of pages of documents
The filing is the latest in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News that has unearthed a trove of private text messages, emails, and deposition transcripts, revealing the network’s executives and hosts rejected the election fraud claims that were being peddled on the right-wing channel’s air.
Among the thousands of pages of documents include repeated statements from Fox Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch rejecting conspiracy theories about Dominion that his own network promoted after the 2020 election.
“Maybe Sean and Laura went too far,” Murdoch said, referring to primetime hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham election denialism after Donald Trump’s loss.
And internal Fox News emails and messages, also made public Tuesday, further showed how the network’s biggest star privately felt about Trump and his election conspiracy theories, despite regularly expressing support for him on the air.
“I hate him passionately,” primetime host Tucker Carlson said in one text message exchange about Trump.
“That’s the last four years,” Carlson added about the Trump presidency. “We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest. But come on. There isn’t really an upside to Trump.”
Dominion has alleged in its lawsuit that during the 2020 presidential election the right-wing talk channel “recklessly disregarded the truth” and pushed various pro-Donald Trump conspiracy theories about the election technology company because “the lies were good for Fox’s business.”
Fox News has defended its actions, accusing Dominion of distortions, misinformation and misattributing quotes as part of an attempt to “smear Fox News and trample on free speech and freedom of the press.”