In Dominion Pretrial Ruling, Judge Says Fox News Can’t Use Newscasts That Fact Checked Donald Trump’s Election Lies

By Mark Mwachiro 

With the Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation trial against Fox News set to begin on Monday (with jury selection starting Thursday), the judge presiding over that case on Tuesday ruled over several pre-trial motions with both sides suffering some setbacks.

Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis ruled that Fox News cannot, in its defense, cite newscasts which showed Fox News personalities fact-checking former President Donald Trump and his supporters over lies related to the 2020 presidential election.

Judge Davis said showing those moments “were not relevant” and that “you can’t absolve yourself of defamation by putting someone else on at a different time.”


Fox News had hoped to use these newscasts as proof that it was not behaving in a defamatory manner when its other hosts and their respective shows amplified the election lies.

The judge also chastised Fox News attorneys for saying that the statements about Dominion came from guests that appeared on the network, like Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, and not from Fox News hosts. He said the argument is irrelevant because Fox News remains responsible because it is the broadcaster.

“It’s a publication issue, not a who-said-it issue,” he added.

CNN’s Marshall Cohen reported that Judge Davis also ruled against Dominion, saying the company cannot use the Jan. 6 insurrection as part of its case against the cable news network.

The judge said that he does not want the events surrounding that day to taint the jurors’ opinion of Fox News, saying that the events aren’t relevant to the central question in this case which Dominion brought on that focuses on the 2020 presidential election and the wild claims that aired on Fox News that purported a conspiracy involving Dominion to steal the elections from Trump.

“That may be for another court at another time, but it’s not for this court at this time,” he said.

Other issues settled during this pretrial motion included Dominion being able to bring up Fox News’ financial information, including salaries of its top executives and talent.

Judge Davis also said that Dominion could bring up that the fact that the company has received threats as a result of what was broadcast on Fox News but restricted the use of that defense, saying specific threats could not be brought up because Fox News cannot control what others may say.

Judge Davis also revealed that he as well has received death threats due to his involvement with the case.

Later in the day, the judge scolded the Fox News attorneys telling them they had a “credibility problem,” something which stemmed from Dominion’s attorneys arguing that they had been misled by Fox News attorneys when it came to Rupert Murdoch’s role and title within the news organization.

Dominion’s attorney said they were led to believe that Murdoch only had a title at Fox News’ parent company, where he is the chairman but not at Fox News.

It was revealed that he has an “officer” title at Fox News.

Fox News says that this title is an “honorific title,” but Dominion argues that by Murdoch having that title at the network, they are entitled to documents from Murdoch, which they have not been provided with.

“My problem is that it’s been represented more than once to me that he’s not an officer of Fox News. I need to feel comfortable that when you represent something to me, it’s the truth. I’m not very happy right now. I don’t know why this is such a difficult thing.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Fox News said, “Rupert Murdoch has been listed as executive chairman of FOX News in our SEC filings since 2019, and this filing was referenced by Dominion’s own attorney during his deposition.”