Judge cites Fox News' promotion of 'false facts' to allow defamation suit to proceed

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Dominion Voting Systems is suing the network for $1.6 billion for promoting false allegations that the company rigged the election for President Joe Biden.

A Delaware judge on Thursday cited the use of "false facts" by Fox News in his decision to allow a defamation lawsuit brought against the network to proceed.

The conservative network is being sued by Dominion Voting Systems for $1.6 billion over what it says were false allegations of voter fraud following former President Donald Trump's loss in the 2020 election.

Multiple Fox News hosts promoted the baseless allegation that Dominion's vote counting systems were used to manipulate election results in favor of Biden.

The network's lawyers previously made a motion to dismiss the suit, which Judge Eric Davis denied on Thursday. Fox had asserted that statements by on-air personalities like Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs, and Jeanine Pirro were commentary and not defamatory, an argument the judge rejected.

"Although Fox classifies its reporters' remarks as 'commentary' that used 'loose and hyperbolic rhetoric' for entertainment value, even loose and hyperbolic language can be actionable if it rests on false statements of fact undisclosed to viewers," Davis wrote in his decision.

"...Moreover, the Court finds it reasonably conceivable that Fox's reporting comprised opinion 'mixed' with false facts. Under New York law, 'mixed opinions' are actionable."

In his ruling, Davis also noted that Fox News had continued to air falsehoods about Dominion's role in the election even after the company had sent a memo debunking the allegation to producers and on-air personalities.

"Despite these efforts," he wrote, "Fox continued to promote known lies on its broadcasts, websites, social media accounts and subscription service platforms."

"Fox's possession of evidence demonstrating the election fraud claims were untrue supports the reasonable inference that Fox made or published statements knowing they were false or with a reckless disregard for the truth."

The ruling is not a final judgement in the case, but it will allow the suit to move forward.

Fox News has continued to defend its on-air commentary, despite the judge's decision. In a statement released after the ruling, Fox News Media officials said, "Fox News, along with every single news organization across the country, vigorously covered the breaking news surrounding the unprecedented 2020 election, providing full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear-cut analysis."

Dominion is also suing conservative outlets One American News Network (OAN) and Newsmax TV over similar claims. Another voting machine company, Smartmatic, is similarly suing Fox News, OAN, and Newsmax, as well as Trump allies Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, over the matter.

In the meantime, despite the lawsuit, Fox News has continued to dabble in post-election falsehoods.

Network hosts have promoted debunked claims that thousands of "questionable ballots" had been found in Arizona as a result of the error-riddled, partisan "audit" undertaken in the state.

The outlet has also continued to host election conspiracy theorists on-air while, often without providing any real-time fact checking, giving them a platform to spread misinformation. To counter criticism, its hosts have argued that the network has said on a number of occasions that the election wasn't stolen.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.