Summary Of Dominion’s Defamation Case Against Fox News, Which Begins This Week

Posted April 16, 2023 by with 2 comments

This would’ve been the most entertaining courtroom trial since OJ Simpson (imagine seeing Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Maria Bartiromo, Tucker Carlson, and Rupert Murdoch on the witness stand), but the trial won’t be televised, sadly. We’ll still get transcripts and daily recaps from people in the courtroom, of course. The above report from CBS this morning provides a good summary of what this week’s Dominion vs. Fox News trial is all about. It’s an open and shut case for anyone with even a mildly functioning brain, but defamation cases can still be tricky to win, given that the plaintiff has to prove actual malice (i.e., the defendant knowingly lied while making the false, defamatory statements). Further explanation on how Dominion will have to prove its case is in this article from the New York Times:

The legal bar that a company like Dominion must meet to prove defamation is known as actual malice. And it is extremely difficult to prove because of the Supreme Court’s 1964 decision in New York Times Company v. Sullivan, which held that public officials can claim defamation only if they can prove that the defendants either knew that they were making a false statement or were reckless in deciding to publish the defamatory statement.

“There are all sorts of times you can lie with impunity, but here there’s an actual victim,” Mr. Weissmann added. “It’s only because of the serendipity that they actually attacked a company.”

Usually, there is great deference among media lawyers and First Amendment scholars toward the defendants in a libel case. They argue that the law is supposed to provide the media with breathing room to make mistakes, even serious ones, as long as they are not intentional.

But many legal scholars have said that they believed there was ample evidence to support Dominion’s case, in which they argue they were intentionally harmed by the lies broadcast by Fox, and that they would not only be surprised but disappointed if a jury didn’t find Fox liable for defamation.


Hide picture