Fox faces skeptical judge in Dominion defamation case
STORY: Fox News was met with a skeptical judge Tuesday as the U.S. network tried to avoid the defamation trial it faces from Dominion Voting Systems.
It’s one of the most closely watched media trials in years.
And both sides had been hoping for a quick ruling without a jury over Dominion’s $1.6 billion lawsuit.
The company alleges Fox ruined its reputation as an election tech provider by knowingly airing vote-rigging claims that the network knew were false.
However judge Eric M. Davis said in a Delaware hearing that he was still deciding whether or not to issue a summary judgment.
He questioned the Fox legal team about its argument of ‘neutral reporting’ privilege, where they say the network aired former President Donald Trump’s claims about the 2020 election in pursuit of ratings.
Despite knowing they were not true.
Roy Gutterman is a communications law expert and associate professor at Syracuse University.
He says any outcome in the case may have major effects.
"This case has implications for all the parties involved. The plaintiff here certainly has a legitimate argument to make that its business was being impuned with allegations of election fraud. If that is your bread and butter, if that is your sole business, you can certainly understand how these allegations could harm their reputation. We all have reputations that we're concerned about. From the media standpoint, Fox, this could be a credibility issue with Fox, that they're putting things on the air perhaps to placate their viewers, rather than adhere to the truth."
Dominion for its part must prove Fox knew what it was doing by a legal standard called ‘actual malice.’
While on Tuesday Fox lawyer Erin Murphy argued that reasonable viewers understood that the claims Fox aired were just allegations.
Fox also argues the impact of election coverage on Dominion’s business was minimal, citing a December 2020 email in which the Dominion’s CEO said, “no customer cares about the media.”
The pretrial hearing is due to resume on Wednesday, and the trial itself is set to start on April 17.