A Delaware Superior Court judge ruled on Tuesday that Dominion Voting Systems can proceed with its defamation lawsuit against Fox Corp, parent company of Fox News. Judge Eric M. Davis said the case can continue because, “Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch may have acted with ‘actual malice’ in directing the network to broadcast conspiracy theories alleging the 2020 presidential election was rigged.”
In the decision, reported by Bloomberg, Judge Davis cited reports that the elder Murdoch privately expressed he knew then-President Donald Trump had lost the 2020 election. Judge Davis also cited columns in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal and New York Post that condemned Trump’s allegations of election fraud and strongly encouraged him to accept defeat.
“These allegations support a reasonable inference that Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch either knew Dominion had not manipulated the election or at least recklessly disregarded the truth when they allegedly caused Fox News to propagate its claims about Dominion,” Judge Davis writes. “Thus, Dominion has successfully brought home actual malice to the individuals at Fox Corporation who it claims to be responsible for the broadcasts.”
Judge Davis is the same Delaware Superior Court judge who in December rejected Fox News’ motion to dismiss Dominion’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the network over false on-air claims concerning Dominion’s voting technology. Dominion argued that Fox News featured personalities who falsely claimed the tech company rigged the 2020 presidential election in order to boost Nielsen ratings.
Bloomberg noted Fox didn’t respond to its request for comment.
Fox News has claimed in the past that its coverage is protected by the First Amendment—that freedom of the press means the ability to report multiple sides of a story involving claims that strike at the core of democracy—and that’s why the network has sought to dismiss Dominion’s defamation suit. “Fox News Media is proud of our 2020 election coverage, which stands in the highest tradition of American journalism, and will vigorously defend against this baseless lawsuit in court,” the network previously said.
Fox News isn’t the only cable news network Dominion is suing. The voting tech company has also filed a defamation lawsuit against conservative news outlet Newsmax, and the same Delaware judge recently ruled that particular lawsuit can also move forward.
The aforementioned Judge Eric Davis denied Newsmax’s motion to dismiss Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation suit last Thursday, finding the news network likely knew its allegations against Dominion were “probably false” and its 2020 election coverage may have intentionally left out evidence showing Dominion wasn’t involved with election fraud.
Dominion sued Newsmax in Delaware state court and sued One America News (OANN) in Washington D.C. federal court in August 2021, alleging the two conservative cable news networks defamed the Dominion brand by spreading accusations that it rigged the 2020 presidential election for Joe Biden.