The great fraud that is Fox “News” — a cable propaganda machine posing as a news channel supposedly practicing professional journalism — has been exposed in a legal filing by Dominion Voting Systems in its defamation suit against the Murdoch media machine. Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Rupert Murdoch — they all thought claims of massive voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election were bogus yet they continued to give significant air time to the crackpots making the claims, allowing them to accuse Dominion of perpetuating a flip of votes from Trump to Joe Biden. Dominion is suing FOX for $1.6 billion in damages.

Three thoughts:

  • The claim that FOX hosts were merely “covering” the news — that is, giving air time to Trumpers who believed there was fraud — is not a sufficient defense if those who produce and host the shows knew the claims were bogus. You can’t knowingly allow slander on the air. As my colleagues at The Baltimore Sun and other newspapers have learned, comments made in internal memos and emails among reporters and editors are not protected; how we characterize people and their claims can be used against us to prove malicious intent.
  • A FOX spokeswoman cites Sullivan v New York Times as the company’s defense against claims of injury by Dominion. Sullivan was a libel case. (Libel is a written or published defamatory statement while slander is spoken by the defendant. Both areas of law cover defamation.) In any case, the Supreme Court held in Sullivan that, when a statement concerns a public figure, it is not enough to show that it is false. (I’m not sure Sullivan applies because it’s hard to see how Dominion, a private company, can be viewed as a “public figure.”) The plaintiff must show that the statement was made with reckless disregard for the truth. Justice Brennan called it “actual malice.” From Oyez: “In libel law, ‘malice’ had meant knowledge or gross recklessness rather than intent since courts found it difficult to imagine that someone would knowingly disseminate false information without a bad intent.” That ruling was in the mid-1960s, some 30 years before FOX “News” went live.
  • Lastly, I don’t know if people behind the scenes at FOX regard themselves as journalists, but they have no business ever making the boast. I speak not about the on-air hosts but the producers, those who daily make news judgements, schedule guests and write copy for the hosts. We all have to make a living. But you don’t get to call yourself a journalist if you produce content for Murdoch’s cable channel. The legend on the license says “truth,” and you can never knowingly take part in the printing or airing of lies or malicious distortions and keep that license. Call yourself a propagandist, a conservative, a grunt in the American entertainment industry — anything but journalist.

7 thoughts on “Never rooted for a plaintiff in a media defamation case — until Dominion v. Fox “News”

  1. Thanks for this. Fox News is just Fox Entertainment and has been for, what, decades now? When the publisher of those London Fleet Street rags came to America, he brought back the yellow journalism that sold papers in the 19th century.


  2. Right on, my brother! Three cheers for Dominion for going after these bastards! Hillary Clinton should have done the same and had very just cause to do so. Slim is not a fan of her various moanings and groanings, but she should have sued them

    Liked by 1 person

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