Is Dominion’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit a deathblow for Murdoch and Fox News? | Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch rarely has to respond to alternative facts presented by the highly profitable US cable network, Fox News.

Her conspiratorial claims about showcasing cover-ups from the 2012 Benghazi attack to the climate crisis and Covid-19 have been slammed by Fox viewers and snubbed by much of the rest of America, then the world has moved on. But on Tuesday, the 91-year-old billionaire media mogul will have to answer tough questions under oath about the inner workings of Fox.

Dominion voting systems sues The TV news station and its Murdoch-owned parent company, Fox Corp, have been sued for $1.6bn (£1.3bn) over repeated allegations that it rigged voting machines as part of a plot to steal the 2020 presidential election from Donald Trump.

The lawsuit highlights Fox News’ part in promoting Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign and its hand in leading the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. But legal experts say Dominion, which has supplied voting machines to 28 states, appears to be building a broader case Fox News He has a long history of misinformation and a flow of facts that don’t fit the editorial line.

Over the past few months, Dominion attorneys have been working their way up the tree of Fox News producers, executives, and anchors with sworn interrogations about the network’s work culture and its weeks of conspiracy, and sometimes outlandish claims about Trump’s defeat. On Monday, lawyers removed Murdoch’s eldest son, who is supposed to be the successor to Fox Corp CEO Lachlan.

Now, the Dominion had reached the top of the tree. The testimony accumulated over months is expected to put Murdoch, the chairman of Fox Corp., in the difficult position of either denying his control over what happens in his most influential American news operation or defending her campaign to promote the biggest lie in the American election. Date.

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Murdoch is already grappling with the costly legacy of phone hacking By the British newspapers News of the World and the sun. His British company has paid more than £1 billion ($1.2 billion) over the past decade to keep shocking details from being heard in open court with no end in sight after a High Court judge earlier this year. Refusal to prevent new claims from being submitted.

When Murdoch was called to testify before a parliamentary hearing in the United Kingdom in 2011 about the News of the World hacking of the phones of a murdered schoolgirl and hundreds of politicians, celebrities and other public figures, he said it had been his most humble day. life. He also claimed that he did not know anything about the offense and said he was misled.

He told Parliament, “I feel that the people I trust… I don’t say who… let me down and I think they have acted disgracefully.” “It is time for them to pay.”

But he can make no such claim about Fox News, where its misrepresentations have been on full display. So far, the only people paying in the network have done it right.

The troubles began on election night after Fox called the key swing state of Joe Biden’s Arizona. The invitation infuriated Trump and unleashed a backlash from his supporters against the network.

At that point, Fox News CEO Susan Scott cautioned against succumbing to pressure to embrace an alternate reality and reverse Arizona’s call.

“We can’t give the lunatics an inch,” she said, according to court records.

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As it turned out, “The Madmen” took a mile, as Fox News put a show on Trump’s lawyers, advisers, and advocates over the following weeks promoting countless conspiracy theories about how the election was stolen from Trump, including by rigging voting machines.

And along with them, some of Fox’s biggest names have embraced the cry of fraud. NPR revealed that during the discovery process, Dominion obtained an email written by a Fox News producer pleading with colleagues not to let one of those presenters, Jeanine Pirro, go on the air because she was spreading conspiracy theories about voting. Biro, a former attorney general and Trump confidant, continued broadcasting.

The lawyers also obtained a slew of internal letters that are “evidence that Fox knew the lies it was broadcasting about Dominion were wrong” and part of a culture of politically charged reporting and broadcasts far from the network’s claim to be “fair and balanced”.

Dominion claims that without Fox, “these fantasies” about election fraud would never have gained the same traction among so many Americans.

“Fox took a small flame and turned it into a forest fire,” the company claims in its lawsuit.

In August, attorneys questioned another presenter, Sean Hannity, who was described as “Part of the Trump campaign apparatusHe was questioned for more than seven hours, including a radio broadcast two weeks after the presidential election, in which Trump lawyer and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell was a guest.

Powell claimed that Dominion “ran an algorithm that harvested Trump’s votes and gave them to Biden.” It said the company “used machines to inject and add massive amounts of votes for Biden.” Powell also alleged that Dominion used software developed to help the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez steal the election.

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Dominion said it had warned Fox News that the allegations were false but continued to air them in an effort to mollify Trump supporters for fear they would move to other right-wing broadcasters.

“It’s an organized effort,” Dominion’s attorney said at a hearing. “Not only is it part of each individual host, but it’s across Fox News as a company.”

So far, the only Fox employees who have paid the price for the disaster are those who got it right. Weeks after the election, the network fired its political director, Chris Stirwalt, who had infuriated Trump and other Republicans by refusing to back down from Biden’s Arizona call. Washington’s managing editor, Bill Sammon, who supported Stirewalt’s decision, has retired.

Fox argues that Hannity and the other presenters are protected by press privilege but that situation is complicated by the Fox host’s description of his role.

In his defense of his public bias in favor of Trump and the Republicans, Hannity has more than once He said he is not a journalist But a talk show host is, and therefore does not have to adhere to the ethical standards of the profession. He took the same stance earlier this year after a congressional committee on January 6 revealed dozens of his letters to Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, Advise and seek guidance The White House also challenged the outcome of the presidential election.

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