Chairman Rupert Murdoch will be questioned under oath in a defamation case for his network’s coverage of unsubstantiated vote-rigging claims during the 2020 U.S. presidential election on Thursday and Friday.
Dominion Voting Systems claims Fox News Network exaggerated unsubstantiated claims that its equipment was used to rig the election against Republican Donald Trump and in favor of his Democratic opponent Joe Biden, who won. Dominion is suing for $1.6 billion in compensation.
Murdoch, 91, is the most well-known person to be questioned in the case.
Fox has maintained that it has a legal right to report on Trump and his lawyers’ charges of election fraud and that Dominion’s lawsuit will impede press freedom. Fox directed Reuters to an earlier statement in which he stated: “There is nothing more newsworthy than covering the president of the United States and his lawyers making allegations of voter fraud.”
A judge rejected the network’s bid to toss the case in December 2021.
“From the highest levels down, Fox knowingly spread lies about Dominion,” the election machine company said in a statement.
Murdoch is expected to be questioned in person in Los Angeles on Thursday and Friday by lawyers for Dominion, according to a filing in Delaware Superior Court. The session will be closed to the public. Murdoch’s deposition had previously been scheduled for Dec. 13 and Dec. 14, 2022.
Dominion has also sought communications from Murdoch, his son Lachlan Murdoch, and other Fox News employees in order to demonstrate that the network either knew the assertions it broadcast were untrue or willfully ignored their accuracy. That is the bar of “actual malice” that public persons must meet in order to prevail in defamation cases.
Doug Mirell, a defamation lawyer who has watched the case, feels Dominion has an “air-tight” case for real malice because Fox hosts carried through with vote-rigging allegations “far after it was clearly evident that these statements were demonstrably false.”
Dominion claimed in its March 2021 complaint that Fox exaggerated the erroneous theories to improve viewership and keep up with hard-right competitors such as One America News Network, which Dominion is also suing. The complaint cited instances in which Trump allies like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell appeared on Fox News and falsely claimed Dominion software may have manipulated vote counts in favor of Biden.
A five-week trial in the case is scheduled to begin on April 17.