Fox News has asked a court in Delaware to dismiss a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems over the network’s post-2020 election coverage, arguing that the suit would stifle news outlets’ “free-speech right to inform the public about newsworthy allegations of paramount public concern.”
In March, Dominion filed a lawsuit alleging Fox News pundits had spread false information about the company’s election machines, while also asserting that Fox allowed certain figures—including former President Donald Trump and his lawyers—to make on-air claims about election irregularities during the Nov. 3 presidential election.
But Fox News’ attorneys said its personalities and reporters didn’t originate the election fraud claims against Dominion’s machines.
“When a sitting President of the United States and his legal team challenge a presidential election in litigation throughout the nation, the media can truthfully report and comment on those allegations under the First Amendment without fear of liability. Plaintiffs’ defamation lawsuit against Fox News threatens to stifle the media’s free-speech right to inform the public about newsworthy allegations of paramount public concern,” attorneys for Fox wrote in a May 17 motion.
The lawyers also stipulated that Fox News “did not create allegations against Dominion” and merely covered such claims “just as it had reported the election results.”
“As responsible journalists, Fox covered both sides. The American people deserved to know why President Trump refused to concede despite his apparent loss,” Fox News’ motion said. “The news media has the right in a democracy to inform citizens by reporting and commenting on a President’s allegations challenging the security of our elections.”
In its motion, Fox’s attorneys wrote that the network sought to present viewers with both sides.
“Fox hosts responsibly covered the controversy, repeatedly pressing the President’s attorneys, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, for evidence substantiating their allegations,” lawyers for the media outlet said. After Powell appeared alongside Giuliani in a press conference last year, Giuliani issued a statement later saying she wasn’t part of Trump’s team.
Dominion has filed lawsuits against Giuliani, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, and Powell—all worth in excess of $1 billion each. The CEO of the firm, John Poulos, and his attorneys have suggested they might file a suit against Trump himself.
Responding to Fox’s motion to dismiss the suit, a Dominion spokesperson said on May 19: “Dominion strongly supports free speech, but defamation for commercial gain is clearly not protected, and we intend to hold FOX accountable for its reckless disregard for the truth. This case will strengthen the First Amendment, not weaken it.”
Earlier this month, Newsmax settled a separate lawsuit with a Dominion employee who had named the media outlet in a defamation lawsuit and issued an apology on its website.
Another voting systems company, Smartmatic, also filed a lawsuit against Fox News, which Fox has also moved to dismiss.
Earlier this year, Fox News disclosed in court documents that it had hired two high-profile defense attorneys to combat the Dominion lawsuit. They were named in the documents as Charles Babcock and Scott Keller.
Dominion Voting Systems didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.