Rupert Murdoch is scheduled to be deposed today and Friday in Dominion Voting Systems’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News over its amplification of claims that the company was involved in rigging the 2020 presidential election.
Murdoch is the latest high profile Fox figure to face questioning under oath in the discovery phase of the case, with CEO Lachlan Murdoch and Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott also having been deposed along with on-air figures including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Maria Bartiromo.
Murdoch is being questioned in Los Angeles on the Fox lot, according to NPR. A deposition scheduled for last month was delayed.
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This week, Dominion and Fox News each filed for motions for summary judgment in the case, asking a Delaware judge to issue a ruling in their favor in advance of the trial, scheduled to begin in April. Those motions are still under seal.
Dominion claims that in the aftermath of the election, in which Fox news was the first TV outlet to call the state of Arizona for Joe Biden, the network sought to “win back viewers” by “connecting Dominion with the false election fraud narrative.” The company contends that Fox News personalities continued to highlight the election claims even after it warned the network that they were false and unfounded. More specifically, Dominion has pointed to statements made by Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs, both of whom featured guests such as attorney Sidney Powell. Dobbs’ Fox Business show was dropped in early 2021.
In a statement, a Dominion spokesperson said, “From the highest levels down, Fox knowingly spread lies about Dominion, causing enormous and irreparable damage. Instead of acting responsibly and showing remorse, Fox instead has doubled down by publicly stating that they are proud of their Dominion-related coverage. We’re focused on holding Fox accountable and are confident the truth will ultimately prevail.”
Dominion also has filed suit against Fox Corp., in which it claimed that the elder Murdoch didn’t believe Trump’s claims of election fraud but “nevertheless encouraged on-air personalities to perpetuate these baseless claims.”
Fox’s attorneys, meanwhile, have defended the network’s coverage as protected by the First Amendment, as it was covering a story squarely within in the public interest. More specifically, the network contends that, in one instance cited by Dominion, Bartiromo was merely summarizing what Powell had claimed before having her expand on the allegations. The network’s attorneys also noted that one of Dobbs’ tweets, in which he called the election a “cyber Pearl Harbor” and linked to a document about Dominion, was “hyperbolic opinion.”
Fox News has said previously about the case, “There is nothing more newsworthy than covering the president of the United States and his lawyers making allegations of voter fraud.”
Dominion has to prove that the network acted with actual malice or reckless disregard for the truth, which has traditionally been a high threshold for defamation plaintiffs to prove as it gets to the state of mind of defendants. Its attorneys have focused a good deal of its discovery on trying to obtain emails and other office communications to show what news personnel were aware of at the time.
Both sides in the case are seeking sanctions against the other. Fox News claims that electronic messages of senior Dominion executives were spoiled. In its own motion, Dominion claims deletion of evidence from top executives like Scott and figures like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.
A Fox Corp. spokesperson declined to comment on the Murdoch deposition.
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