Back in May, Fox News filed a motion to dismiss Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the network over false on-air claims concerning its voting technology and connection to the 2020 presidential election.
That motion to dismiss was rejected by a Delaware Superior Court judge on Thursday, and the suit can now move forward.
This means that the Colorado-based voting company may have the ability to obtain communications within Fox News as it gathers evidence for the case. Additionally, it’s conceivable that Dominion may be able to interview the network’s top names under oath.
In the 52-page ruling Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis said that Dominion had shown that “At this stage, it is reasonably conceivable that Dominion has a claim for defamation per se.”
In denying the motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Judge Davis said that Dominion’s complaint “supports the reasonable inference that Fox either (i) knew its statements about Dominion’s role in election fraud were false or (ii) had a high degree of awareness that the statements were false.”
Davis added that “Fox possessed countervailing evidence of election fraud from the Department of Justice, election experts and Dominion at the time it had been making its statements. The fact that, despite this evidence, Fox continued to publish its allegations against Dominion, suggests Fox knew the allegations were probably false.”
The judge also wrote that, despite emails from Dominion attempting to factually address Fox’s fraud allegations, Fox and its news personnel continued to report Dominion’s “purported connection to the election fraud claims without also reporting on Dominion’s emails.”
Judge Davis added, “The Court finds it is reasonably conceivable that Fox and its personnel broadcasted mixed opinions that were based on either false or incomplete facts unknown to the reasonable viewer.”
Dominion Voting Systems filed a lawsuit earlier this year against Fox News Media, alleging that some network personalities pushed false claims that Dominion had intentionally changed votes in the 2020 presidential election—through algorithms in its voting machines that had been created in Venezuela to rig elections for Hugo Chavez. On-air personalities, including Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, brought on Trump allies like his personal lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who spread the claims on-air.
The company claims that those lies hurt Dominion’s business.
There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
In response to the court’s decision, Fox News Media said in a statement: “As we have maintained, 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. We remain committed to defending against this baseless lawsuit and its all-out assault on the First Amendment.”
Fox News continues to maintain that its coverage is protected by the First Amendment—and that freedom of the press means the ability to report both sides of a story involving claims that strike at the core of democracy—and that’s why the network has filed a motion to dismiss Dominion’s defamation suit.
“I was struck by some of the judge’s candid analysis including stating that it ‘is reasonably conceivable that Fox’s reporting was inaccurate,’ says Syracuse University professor and director of Tully Center for Free Speech Roy Gutterman. “But we are still at the preliminary phase here and this case is still very far away from a conclusion and we’ll await Fox’s full substantive defense and presentation of additional evidence and pleadings.”