According to court documents released on February 27, Fox News executive chairman Rupert Murdoch stated in a deposition that several of his network’s hosts supported President Donald Trump’s bogus claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

The defamation case against Fox News and its parent firm Fox Corporation originates from the television network’s coverage of the 2020 election’s aftermath. Dominion Voting Systems, a provider of voting technology, filed the claim.

According to the court document, Murdoch responded, “Yes. I believe that some Fox commentators, including Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs, and Maria Bartiromom, have supported the notion that the 2020 election was rigged. They supported.

Is it fair to say that you truly disregarded any claim of widespread election fraud, the media mogul was then questioned?

He then said, “Oh, absolutely,” in response.

And you truly doubted it (claims of election fraud) from the very beginning, the lawyer said. “Yes. We really did believe that everything was fine,” Murdoch said.

He was also questioned about whether he could have intervened to get Rudy Giuliani and other pundits who spread false information about the election off the air at Fox News. Murdoch said, “I could have. Nevertheless, I didn’t. He refuted the idea that Fox News as a whole had supported the claim of a stolen election, though.

Trump accused Murdoch of betraying his anchors in response to his testimony. “Why is Rupert Murdoch tossing his anchors under the table, which also happens to be destroying his case and enraging his viewers, who will again be leaving in droves — they already are,” the former president questioned.

According to The Washington Post, Dominion has filed a $1.6 billion libel lawsuit against Fox News and Fox Corporation, alleging that the media outlet “repeatedly aired false statements that it was part of a conspiracy to fraudulently elect Joe Biden,” which damaged the company’s reputation in the months following the 2020 election.

According to a number of media stories, Fox News hosts alleged that the company’s voting equipment utilised a covert algorithm that might swap votes from one candidate to another. They also asserted that Dominion was established in Venezuela in an effort to support Hugo Chavez, the communist ruler of that nation, in rigging elections.

The voting-tech business in its court statement stated although senior Fox executives and on-air hosts expressed their scepticism and even disgust for bogus charges against Dominions, they didn’t do much to change the content of their programmes.

The New York Times reported, “Dominion lawyers have laid out how they plan to show that senior Fox executives hatched a plan after the election to lure back viewers who had switched to rival hard-right networks, which were initially more sympathetic than Fox was to Mr. Trump’s voter-fraud claims.”

In the meantime, Fox News has contended that the voting-tech business has not offered any proof that Murdoch, his son Lachlan Murdoch, who serves as executive chairman of Fox Corporation, or other top officials were specifically instructed to broadcast election-fraud allegations on the network. It has also stated that the claims made by Trump and his attorneys were inherently newsworthy and that the hosts of Fox News did not support the fabrications concerning Dominion. Most importantly, the network claimed that the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which safeguards freedoms of expression, the press, assembly, and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances, protected its commentary and reporting on the 2020 presidential elections.

“Far from reporting the allegations as true, hosts informed their audiences at every turn that the allegations were just allegations that would need to be proven in court in short order if they were going to impact the outcome of the election,” Fox lawyers said in their filing, NYT reported. “And to the extent, some hosts commented on the allegations, that commentary is an independently protected opinion.”

The attorneys for Dominion are hopeful that Murdoch’s admission would assist them overcome the challenging legal standard of “actual malice,” which the US Supreme Court has set for defamation lawsuits. The voting-tech company will need to show, according to the NYT, that either an executive of the network knew the claims of voter fraud made by Trump and his aides were untrue or that they purposefully disregarded information showing that the claims were false in order to succeed in their lawsuit against Fox News and Fox Corporation.

In the US, defamation lawsuits against media firms are not commonplace, but they frequently fail due to the First Amendment’s safeguards for free expression. Though Dominion has a ton of evidence against the network, many legal experts think the company’s libel lawsuit against the network is an unusual one. If Fox News is found guilty, it could have a significant negative impact on its revenues and reputation, as well as the First Amendment.

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