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The Defamation Case Between Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems – An Open, Closed, Low-Cost Settlement

The high-stakes showdown between Dominion Voting Systems and Fox News finally commences in earnest Tuesday when the $1.6 billion defamation trial begins, shining a spotlight on Fox’s election denialism and the toxic role of its disinformation on American politics.

The jury was sworn in on Tuesday and then proceedings were paused for hours, which led to speculation that a deal was in the works.

Private text messages and emails released as part of the case revealed that top executives simply didn’t believe the debunked conspiracy theories they were peddling on-air.

Even as this case has advanced forward in recent days, some top Fox News personalities such as Carlson have yet again shamelessly sowed doubt about legitimacy of the 2020 election.

The figures inside Fox may have promoted lies, but they acted recklessly with the truth in mind.

The network often presents dishonest narratives about its critics, as well assailing the media. Such tactics will not work in court, where Fox’s lawyers will be professionally obligated to tell the truth and won’t have the fact-free rein that its on-air personalities enjoy.

Fox has said it never intentionally suppressed any evidence in the case. Lawyers for the network sent an apology to the judge Friday, showing contrition and taking responsibility for the misunderstanding that led to the inquiry.

A last-second settlement has been reached in the historic defamation case between Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems, the parties announced Tuesday in court.

The Fox News “Leads” — An Alternative Defense to the Claims of Dominion, Fox News and the Postmaster in Erie and Georgia

It was important for you to be here. The judge told the jurors that without them the parties wouldn’t have been able to resolve their situation.

A representative for the company said Fox News won’t have to admit on air that they lied in the election, as part of the settlement.

What is it that Dominion is asking for? $1.6 billion in damages is sought by the company. They said Fox’s lies destroyed its reputation and is forcing election officials to cancel their contracts. CNN recently reported on the growing distrust in voting machines in heavily Republican counties.

What are the trial plans? The trial is expected to last five to six weeks and will be overseen by Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis, who was appointed to the state bench in 2012 by a Democratic governor. A panel of 12 jurors and 12 alternates is being seated.

There will be no video of the proceedings in the courtroom. There will not be any photography inside the courtroom.

Who is expected to testify? Fox News’ President Jay Wallace and Fox Corporation executives Murdoch and his son Lachlan are expected to testify.

Both sides are also hoping to put on testimony from their handpicked experts who specialize in election statistics, the security of voting machines, journalism ethics, the impact of disinformation in public discourse, and more.

The postmaster in Erie, Pa., was chased and harassed from his home after a conservative media outlet aired false allegations that he changed mail-in ballots to vote for Joe Biden. In Georgia, a voter faced violent threats after the filmmakers behind the debunked 2000 Mules documentary falsely claimed he had illegally deposited multiple ballots into a drop box. Also in Georgia, two election workers were falsely accused of ballot fraud by two right-wing media outlets and former New York City mayor and Trump campaign adviser Rudy Giuliani.

An even larger $2.7 billion lawsuit filed by another voting machine company awaits Fox News in New York. Donald Trump and other conservative figures may be held accountable for the damaging election lies they told.

Andersen Jones says that while defamation cases like these can play some role in ensuring that public discussions are anchored in truth, they’re limited to addressing election lies aimed at individuals or specific companies. She says that they are just one tool in the battle against election denialism and distrust.

A body of case law can be created to enforce consequences for lying about elections, and the people who keep them running smoothly, if they are built together, according to a media law professor.

Andersen Jones says that the collective whole can make a difference in a way that the individual suits cannot. There are a few cases that put us in a position where the evidence body is deep enough and broad enough that these cases have a chance of succeeding.

Ordinary individuals cannot afford the expensive legal battles against high-profile figures and media organizations.

Some individuals are taking advantage of the dynamic to flood the news and deceive the world. They’re amplifying and fabricating lies for personal and political gain,” says attorney Sara Chimene-Weiss of Protect Democracy, a nonprofit legal group that has stepped in to represent some of the private individuals targeted by election-lie narratives.

In order to have a thriving democracy, we need to be operating on a shared reality and set of facts. That’s what we’re trying to do.

Defaming Lou Dobbs’ TV Show: What Do You Expect to Learn From a State-Level Supremum?

Some cases, just the act of filing these suits, seems to have brought immediate results. Lou Dobbs’ TV show was canceled immediately after Smartmatic filed a defamation suit against Fox because he pushed conspiracy theories about voting machines, according to Andersen Jones.

Some people are able to make money from selling lies in the information system. And defamation law can only do so much about that,” says Lyrissa Lidsky, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. “Partly, you’ve got to look at the supply side for this information. I believe you have to pay attention to the demand side. Is it possible that we will be more fond of consuming false information if it’s true?

One risk is that defamation lawsuits can also be weaponized against people who raise factually grounded criticisms, she says, which is why a careful balance between protecting people’s reputations and the constitutional right to free speech has always been a key concern at the heart of defamation law.

If you are rich and powerful, it’s really easy to bring a defamation action. When it’s hard to win, you can file lawsuits and cause a lot of pain to another person. “You have to be careful that defamation isn’t used as a tool to suppress free speech and criticism, particularly criticism of government officials.”

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