Fox TV News Hosts Accused of Deceit in Lawsuit by Voting Machine Company
GEORGETOWN, Del. — Fox Television hosts ridiculed 2020 election fraud claims behind the scenes even as they promoted them as credible during their broadcasts, according to a new court filing.
Fox Television is being sued by Dominion Voting Systems, the company Donald Trump accused of falsifying vote counts against him. Dominion is one of the nation’s biggest producers of electronic voting machines.
Dominion said in its motion for summary judgment filed Friday that television hosts like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham were secretly calling the voter fraud allegations names like “insane” but declined to question them on air.
Dominion claims $1.6 billion in damages in its defamation lawsuit. Its motion for summary judgment was filed in state court in Delaware, where Fox Television is incorporated.
Evidence the television hosts said one thing on the air but something different among one another could be critical to Fox Television’s case.
Defamation refers to communicating false statements about a person or organization.
Media organizations are protected by free speech provisions of the First Amendment from defamation lawsuits filed by public figures or groups, which could include a high-profile company like Dominion.
However, the Supreme Court established an exception to the free speech protections for media organizations in the 1964 case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan.
The Supreme Court said media organizations can be sued successfully by public figures if they demonstrate “actual malice” with their false statements. Actual malice can mean an intent to defame someone or knowingly publishing falsehoods.
Dominion says Fox Television hosts’ private communications that contradicted their public statements provide a “mountain of direct evidence” to show they knowingly published falsehoods about Dominion and the 2020 election.
Its court filing says the television hosts continued the falsehoods to avoid losing viewers and advertising dollars to conservative competitors like Newsmax and One America News Network.
“Here, however, overwhelming direct evidence establishes Fox’s knowledge of falsity, not just ‘doubts,'” Dominion said in its motion for summary judgment.
The court filing quotes internal memos and testimony of Fox Television employees, such as a communication between Carlson and Ingraham in which Carlson reportedly said in November 2020, “Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane.”
Sidney Powell was a Trump attorney who helped pursue election fraud claims through various courts. All of the claims were denied.
Ingraham allegedly answered, “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy [Giuliani].”
Fox reporter Lucas Tomlinson is alleged to have told the network’s chief political correspondent in December 2020, “It’s dangerously insane, these conspiracy theories.”
A text message from Ron Mitchell, Fox’s senior vice president of primetime programming, to his colleagues called Powell and Trump attorney Giuliani “clowns.”
Fox Television denied Dominion’s allegations in a statement Friday.
“There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners, but the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by New York Times v. Sullivan,” the network said.
Fox Television also accused Dominion of trying to gouge disputes over the 2020 election for money.
“Dominion’s private equity owner Staple Street Capital bought the company in 2018 at an enterprise value of approximately $80 million and now seeks a $1.6 billion recovery for alleged damages to that $80 million asset,” the statement said.
The case is U.S. Dominion Inc. et al. v. Fox News Network LLC, case number N21C-03-257, in Delaware Superior Court.