The judge presiding over the Dominion Voting Systems defamation lawsuit against Fox News has imposed a sanction on the network and would likely investigate its legal team for potentially withholding evidence and not being “straightforward” with him (lead image: Fox News chair Rupert Murdoch)
Judge Eric Davis took the action after lawyers for Dominion revealed a number of instances in which Fox’s lawyers had not turned over evidence in a timely manner, including recordings of the Fox News host Maria Bartiromo talking with former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani. Dominion said that this evidence had only been turned over a week ago.
Dominion is suing Fox News for defamation following its reporting of the 2020 US Presidential Election which hinged on voter fraud conspiracy theories. Earlier in the trial, it was revealed that Fox News’ leadership did nothing to stop the false reporting by its hosts and even encouraged it.
When testifying, Rupert Murdoch even said that Fox News was trying to “straddle the line between spewing conspiracy theories on one hand, yet calling out the fact that they are actually false on the other.”
Judge Davis said that if Dominion had to do any additional depositions for evidence, or redo any, Fox would have to “do everything they can to make the person available, and it will be at a cost to Fox.”
Davis also said that he would be very likely to appoint a special master (an outside lawyer) to look into Fox’s handling of documentary evidence and whether it had inappropriately withheld details about the scope of Murdoch’s role.
Fox has maintained since the suit was first filed in 2021 that Murdoch has nothing to do with the running or editorial policies of Fox News, despite him being the chair of Fox. In the past few days, however, Fox disclosed to Dominion that Murdoch was, indeed, a corporate officer at Fox News.
Judge Davis has told Fox’s lawyers to retain all internal messages from 20 March this year relating to Murdoch’s role at Fox News. The date is important as it was when lawyers submitted a letter to Davis requesting that Murdoch and other Fox Corporation execs not be forced to stand trial claiming that they “limited knowledge of pertinent facts.”
Davida Brook, representing Dominion, said that they were still receiving documents from Fox relating to the case with the trial due to start on Monday.
“We keep on learning about more relevant information from individuals other than Fox,” she said. “And to be honest we don’t really know what to do about that, but that is the situation we find ourselves in.”