Smartmatic says disinformation on Fox News about the election was ‘no accident.’

The election technology company Smartmatic pushed back on Monday against Fox News’s argument that it had covered the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election responsibly, stating that Fox anchors had played along as guests pushed election-related conspiracy theories.

“The First Amendment does not provide the Fox defendants a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Smartmatic’s lawyer, J. Erik Connolly, wrote in a brief filed in New York State Supreme Court. “The Fox defendants do not get a do-over with their reporting now that they have been sued.”

The brief came in response to motions filed by Fox Corporation and three current and former Fox hosts — Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro and Lou Dobbs — to dismiss a Smartmatic lawsuit accusing them of defamation.

Smartmatic and another company, Dominion Voting Systems, became the focus of baseless conspiracy theories after the Nov. 4 election that they had manipulated vote totals in contested states. Those conspiracy theories were pushed by Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell, serving as personal lawyers to former President Donald J. Trump, on Fox News, Mr. Trump’s longtime network of choice. Smartmatic, which says that the conspiracy theories destroyed its reputation and its business, provided election technology in only one county during the election.

also sued Fox News. Together, the two suits represent a billion-dollar challenge to the Fox empire, which, after Smartmatic filed its lawsuit, canceled the Fox Business program hosted by Mr. Dobbs.

“The filing only confirms our view that the suit is meritless and Fox News covered the election in the highest tradition of the First Amendment,” the network said in a statement late Monday.

Fox’s motion, as well as those of its anchors, argued that the mentions of Smartmatic were part of its reporting on a newsworthy event that it was duty-bound to cover: A president’s refusal to concede an election and his insistence that his opponent’s victory was not legitimate.

But the response Smartmatic filed on Monday, which runs for 120 pages, said that argument amounted to wishful thinking and that Fox had not covered the claims about Smartmatic objectively or fairly.

“The Fox defendants wedded themselves to Giuliani and Powell during their programs,” the brief said. “They cannot distance themselves now.”

Fox will have several weeks to respond to the brief, and a judge will eventually consider whether to allow Smartmatic’s case to proceed.

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Greg Abbott Speculates Texas Has Herd Immunity

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas may have been overly optimistic on Sunday when he said on Fox News that his state could be “very close” to herd immunity — the point where so much of the population is immune to Covid-19, either from being vaccinated or previously infected, that the virus can no longer spread.

“When you look at the senior population, for example, more than 70 percent of our seniors have received a vaccine shot, more than 50 percent of those who are 50 to 65 have received a vaccine shot,” Mr. Abbott, a Republican, told Chris Wallace. Mr. Wallace had asked why statewide infection, hospitalization and death rates were more under control than in other states, in spite of Texas reopening many activities and eliminating mask mandates.

The governor added, “I don’t know what herd immunity is, but when you add that to the people who have immunity, it looks like it could be very close to herd immunity.”

Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, said, “There is no way on God’s green earth that Texas is anywhere even close to herd immunity.”

Michigan has 22 percent and Minnesota has 24 percent.

Estimates of what it would take to reach herd immunity have edged up since the pandemic began, ranging from requiring immunity in 60 percent to more than 90 percent of the population to halt transmission.

What the level really is, “We don’t know,” Dr. Osterholm said. “Anybody who will tell you exactly what the level of herd immunity is, is also likely to want to sell you a bridge.”

He predicted that within a few weeks or a month, Texas and other parts of the U.S. south and west would see rising case rates like the levels now occurring in the Upper Midwest and Northeast.

the coronavirus variant first identified in Britain and known as B.1.1.7, which is more contagious than the form of the virus that first emerged.

That variant “surely resets the meter” and makes herd immunity harder to achieve, Dr. Osterholm said. Additional variants could further complicate the forecast.

“These variants are game changers,” he said. “They really are. It’s really remarkable.”

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Millions of white evangelicals do not intend to get vaccinated.

Across white evangelical America, reasons not to get vaccinated have spread quickly.

The deeply held spiritual convictions or counterfactual arguments may vary, but the opposition is rooted in a mix of religious faith and a longstanding wariness of mainstream science, and it is fueled by broader cultural distrust of institutions and gravitation to online conspiracy theories.

The sheer size of the community poses a major problem for the country’s ability to recover from a pandemic that has resulted in the deaths of half a million Americans.

There are about 41 million white evangelical adults in the United States. About 45 percent said in late February that they would not get vaccinated against Covid-19, making them among the least likely demographic groups to do so, according to the Pew Research Center.

As vaccines become more widely available, and as more contagious virus variants develop, the problem takes on new urgency. Significant numbers of Americans generally are resistant to getting vaccinated, but white evangelicals present unique challenges because of their complex web of moral, medical and political objections. The challenge is further complicated by longstanding distrust between evangelicals and the scientific community.

No clear data is available about vaccine hesitancy among evangelicals of other racial groups. But religious reasoning often spreads beyond white churches.

Many high-profile conservative pastors and institutional leaders have endorsed the vaccines. Franklin Graham told his 9.6 million Facebook followers that Jesus would advocate vaccination.

Pastor Robert Jeffress commended it from an anti-abortion perspective on Fox News. (“We talk about life inside the womb being a gift from God. Well, life outside the womb is a gift from God, too.”)

But other influential voices in the sprawling, trans-denominational movement, especially those who have gained their stature through media fame, have sown fears. Gene Bailey, the host of a prophecy-focused talk show on the Victory Channel, warned his audience in March that the government and “globalist entities” would “use bayonets and prisons to force a needle into your arm.”

Dr. Simone Gold, a prominent Covid-19 skeptic who was charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct in the Jan. 6 Capitol siege, told an evangelical congregation in Florida that they were in danger of being “coerced into taking an experimental biological agent.”

One widespread concern among evangelicals is the vaccines’ ties to abortion. In reality, the connection is remote: Some of the vaccines were developed and tested using cells derived from the fetal tissue of elective abortions that took place decades ago.

The vaccines do not include fetal tissue, and no additional abortions are required to manufacture them. Still, the kernel of a connection has metastasized online into false rumors about human remains or fetal DNA being an ingredient in the vaccines.

Some evangelicals see the vaccine as a redemptive outcome for the original aborted fetus.

Dr. Julie Morita, the executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a former Chicago public health commissioner, said the method to reach white evangelicals is similar to building vaccine confidence in other groups: Listen to their concerns and questions, and then provide information that they can understand from people they trust.

But a public education campaign alone may not be enough.

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The Lawyer Behind the Throne at Fox

LOS ANGELES — In early 2019, as the Murdoch family completed the $71 billion sale of 21st Century Fox to Disney, executives at the movie studio learned that someone was reading all their emails.

And not just anyone: Viet Dinh, the Fox Corporation’s chief legal officer and close friend of Fox’s chief executive, Lachlan Murdoch, had brought on a team of lawyers to investigatethe potential improper use of Fox data” by top 21st Century Fox executives he suspected of leaking to Disney while the terms were still being hammered out, a Fox spokeswoman said. The studio’s president, Peter Rice, and the company’s general counsel, Gerson Zweifach, protested that they were merely conducting normal transition planning — and that Mr. Dinh was being so paranoid he might blow up the transaction.

The episode didn’t scuttle the deal. But the previously unreported conflict between the studio executives and Mr. Dinh, a sociable and relentless Republican lawyer who was the chief architect in 2001 of the antiterrorism legislation known as the Patriot Act, offers a rare glimpse into the opaque power structure of Rupert Murdoch’s world. The nonagenarian mogul exercises immense power, through News Corp and the Fox Corporation, in driving a global wave of right-wing populism. But basic elements of how his media companies run remain shrouded in mystery.

In the case of the Fox Corporation, the questions of who is in charge and what the future holds are particularly hazy. The company, minus its studio, is now a midsize TV company adrift in a landscape of giants like Disney and AT&T that control everything from cellular phone networks to streaming platforms, film and television. Fox’s profits are dominated by Fox News. Lachlan Murdoch’s more liberal brother, James, who no longer holds an operational role in the family businesses, has made clear he’d like to see a change.

complained to The Financial Times about “outlets that propagate lies to their audience.”

Last month, Lachlan Murdoch moved his family to Sydney, Australia, an unlikely base for a company whose main assets are American. The move has intensified the perception — heightened when he stood by as Fox News hosts misinformed their audience about Covid-19 last year — that Mr. Murdoch does not have a tight grip on the reins. The company takes pains to rebut that perception: The Fox spokeswoman told me that Mr. Murdoch is so committed that he has adopted a nocturnal lifestyle, working midnight to 10 a.m. Sydney time. (She also said it would be “false and malicious” to suggest that Mr. Dinh is exercising operational control over Fox’s business units.) It’s such a disorienting situation that one senior Fox employee went so far as to call me last week to ask if I knew anything about succession plans. I promised I’d tell him if I figured it out.

But Mr. Dinh, 53, was ready to step in, and indeed has been seen internally as the company’s power center since before Mr. Murdoch headed across the globe. Mr. Dinh’s ascent caps an unlikely turn in his career that began when he met Lachlan Murdoch at an Aspen Institute event in 2003. The Murdoch heir later asked him to both fill a seat on the company’s board and to be godfather to his son. (“He couldn’t find any other Catholics,” Mr. Dinh joked to The New York Observer in 2006.)

Two former Fox employees and one current and one former Fox News employee familiar with his role painted him as the omnipresent and decisive right hand of a chief executive who is not particularly hands-on. (They spoke only on the condition they not be named because Fox keeps a tight grip on its public relations.) While Mr. Dinh is not running day-to-day programming, he manages the political operation of a company that is the central pillar of Republican politics, and he’s a key voice on corporate strategy who has played a role in Fox’s drive to acquire and partner its way into the global online gambling industry.

In a recent interview with the legal writer David Lat — headlined “Is Viet Dinh the Most Powerful Lawyer in America?” — Mr. Dinh called suggestions in this column and in The Financial Times that he’s more than a humble in-house counsel “flat-out false.”

once told VietLife magazine that he worked jobs including “cleaning toilets, busing tables, pumping gas, picking berries, fixing cars” to help his family make ends meet. He attended Harvard and Harvard Law School. As a student, he wrote a powerful Times Op-Ed about Vietnamese refugees — including his sister and nephew — stranded in Hong Kong. The piece helped win them refugee status, and eventually allowed them to immigrate to the United States.

Mr. Dinh arrived with the conservative politics of many refugees from Communism, and followed a pipeline from a Supreme Court clerkship with Sandra Day O’Connor to a role in the congressional investigations of Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

He was assistant attorney general for legal policy on 9/11, and he was “the fifth likeliest person” to wind up quarterbacking what would become the Patriot Act, said his old friend and colleague Paul Clement, who currently represents Fox in defamation lawsuits brought by two election technology companies. Mr. Dinh “led the effort to pull it all together, package it, present it to the Hill and get it passed,” said a former Bush White House homeland security adviser, Ken Wainstein. The package of legislation transformed the American security state, vastly expanding domestic surveillance and law enforcement powers. It allowed the F.B.I. to conduct secret and intrusive investigations of people and groups swept in by an expanded definition of terrorism.

Mr. Dinh was often mentioned at the time as a brilliant young lawyer who could easily wind up the first Asian-American on the Supreme Court. He was also notably image-conscious, and “worked the media like crazy,” recalled Jill Abramson, a former Times Washington bureau chief and later executive editor. He’s also a master Washington networker whose relationships cross party lines. His best college friend is a Democratic former U.S. attorney, Preet Bharara. Through the pandemic, Mr. Dinh left chipper comments on other lawyers’ job announcements on LinkedIn.

hiring a top Republican opposition researcher, Raj Shah, to monitor online criticism of the company and develop strategies for countering it.

Now, Mr. Dinh finds himself in the strange position of many of Rupert Murdoch’s top lieutenants: He is paid like a chief executive, and fills much of the larger strategic role that comes with that job. He also has the sort of leverage you need in a family business, a personal relationship with Lachlan Murdoch that allowed him to take on Mr. Rice, who is himself the son of a close Rupert Murdoch ally. But Mr. Dinh is still working for a business dominated by the need to follow Mr. Trump and Fox’s audience wherever they lead, lest they be overtaken by networks further to the right, like Newsmax. And the family ultimately retains control.

And Mr. Dinh’s own agenda can be hard to divine. In the interview with Mr. Lat, he largely repeated Fox News talking points about the quality and fairness of the network’s coverage. He did also express pride at Fox’s fleeting willingness to cross the president last fall, even though the network subsequently fired the political analysts who most angered Mr. Trump.

“There is no better historical record of Fox News’s excellent journalism than to see how the former president tweeted against Fox,” Mr. Dinh said.

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Lara Trump Joins Fox News as a Paid Contributor

Fox News just hired a Trump. But not Donald.

Lara Trump, the daughter-in-law of former President Donald J. Trump, is joining the cable channel as a paid on-air contributor, the network announced on Monday. The move was not exactly a surprise, as Ms. Trump acknowledged during a morning appearance on “Fox & Friends.”

“I sort of feel like I’ve been an unofficial member of the team for so long,” Ms. Trump told the show’s co-hosts, Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade. “Over the past five years, I would come there so often that the security guards were like, ‘Maybe we should just give you a key.’”

Mr. Doocy, Mr. Earhardt and Mr. Kilmeade welcomed their new colleague with an on-air round of applause.

Ms. Trump, who is married to the former president’s younger son Eric, was a frequent guest on Fox News during the 2020 campaign, when she served as a surrogate for her father-in-law. Recently, Ms. Trump floated the possibility of running for a U.S. Senate seat in North Carolina, her home state. On Monday, she told “Fox & Friends” that she had not “officially made a decision, but hopefully sometime soon.”

She is the second member of Donald Trump’s inner circle to join the Fox News payroll in recent weeks. Kayleigh McEnany, the former White House press secretary, signed on earlier this month as a contributor.

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Broadcasting ‘the Shock, the Horror, the Outrage’ Live, Again and Again

Last week, the CNN anchor Brianna Keilar found herself, for the second time in under a week, guiding viewers through the grim ritual of trying, and failing, to make sense of another mass shooting.

This time, it was 10 people dead at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo. Only a few days before, she had interviewed a survivor of the rampage at Atlanta-area massage parlors. In 2019, Ms. Keilar reported on the back-to-back shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. In 2018, she spoke with relatives of students killed in the shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Broadcast journalists like Ms. Keilar, 40, have now spent the bulk of their reporting careers chronicling an unending, uniquely American horror show: the random gun massacre. She was CNN’s first journalist to arrive on the Virginia Tech campus in 2007. And she was a college freshman in 1999, watching the network’s coverage of a catastrophe at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

All this was running through Ms. Keilar’s mind on Tuesday when, on-air, she paused after a correspondent’s report about Rikki Olds, the 25-year-old Boulder supermarket manager who was murdered. “I just wonder, can you count how many times you’ve covered a story like this?” she asked, her voice catching. “Have you lost count?”

many New York Times reporters, turn to as they travel to yet another afflicted town. Talk to those who knew the victims and the gunman; attend vigils and funerals; gather information from the police and the courts. Balance necessary reporting on the attack with the potential that too much attention could be seen as glorifying the attacker.

“I call it the checklist: the shock, the horror, the outrage,” Lester Holt, the anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” said in an interview. “It’s all so familiar, and everybody knows the role to play and the questions to answer and how these things play out. Because sadly, they are very predictable.”

Mr. Holt, who has reported on shootings in El Paso; Las Vegas; Newtown, Conn.; Orlando; Santa Fe, Texas; San Bernardino, Calif.; and Sutherland Springs, Texas — a lengthy but by no means exhaustive list — said he was considering this month’s violence in Colorado and Georgia in light of the country’s slow return to normal from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Shootings,” he said, “are part of what normalcy looks like in this country, sadly.”

Journalists who reported on Columbine may not have considered how routine the event they were covering would become. For his book on the shooting, “Columbine,” Dave Cullen analyzed media coverage and found that in the immediate aftermath of the Littleton attack, network news shows broadcast more than 40 segments, CNN and Fox News notched historically high ratings, and The Times mentioned Columbine on its front pages for nearly two straight weeks.

Mr. Cullen, in an interview, said he believed that reporters had absorbed useful lessons since that first episode. “In 1999, everything we heard, we took as gospel; conjecture turned to fact very quickly,” he said.

After Columbine, news organizations were quick to formalize what Mr. Cullen called “myths” about the shooting: that the killers were bullied Goth kids taking revenge on popular jocks. Much of that narrative came from faulty sourcing, and Mr. Cullen said he saw journalists now being more cautious about reaching premature conclusions about an assailant’s motivations. “We take things with a grain of salt,” he said. “There was no salt in 1999.”

Reporters have learned to spend more time focusing on victims, rather than perpetrators. It was a shift that played out vocally on social media, as readers on Twitter implored news organizations to focus more on the people who were killed in the Atlanta shootings, as well as the uptick in crimes against Asian-Americans, rather than the gunman’s supposed motive.

Mr. Cullen recalled a journalism conference in 2005 where he raised the notion that reporters should refrain from focusing too much on the gunman. “I practically got shouted off the stage,” he said. “Now, when I mention the names of a shooter from an older case on television, I will get angry tweets from people. The public expectation has changed.”

Journalists are usually expected to set their feelings aside as they gather disinterested facts about a tragic event. But it’s not always possible, and Mr. Holt said that it was important to “report these things as unusual, as not normal.”

“I think it’s OK to be a little pissed off,” Mr. Holt, of “NBC Nightly News,” said. “As a journalist, it’s not an editorial position to be upset or angry at mass murder, of people going about their day, shopping, getting cut down by a stranger. It’s OK to be upset about that.”

Gayle King, the “CBS This Morning” anchor, described an experience of feeling “like you’re kicked in the gut once again.”

“We almost know how this story is going to go,” she said, invoking a phrase she attributed to Steve Hartman, a CBS colleague: “We’re going to mourn, we’re going to pray, we’re going to repeat.”

“My worry is that we are getting desensitized,” she added. “I don’t want us to get desensitized to it.”

And some reporters have to endure it, and report on it, repeatedly in their own communities.

Chris Vanderveen, 47, was there as a young reporter in the aftermath of the Columbine shooting. He was there to report on the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting. And he had to lead a team of reporters during the Boulder shooting on Monday.

“When I was in journalism school I thought I’d be covering other things,” Mr. Vanderveen, the director of reporting at KUSA, Denver’s NBC affiliate, said in an interview.

He recalled painful lessons that he and his colleagues took from the Columbine shooting. Several reporters who covered that event developed close ties with people in the community, including parents of the victims. He said that helped them ask an important question: “What can we learn as journalists about not adding to the grief?”

After Aurora, KUSA invited family members of victims to the station. They were not there for an interview. “No story, no nothing,” he said. “Just to help us with our coverage.”

Mr. Vanderveen said that through those conversations, the station decided not to show the same mug shot of the gunman over and over again. And he said he continued to consider the role the news media played in potentially inspiring future killers. “I worry that there are people out there that for a variety of reasons may want recognition, and then they see this heavy emphasis on an individual who keeps getting his picture shown,” he said.

On Monday, Mr. Vanderveen was in a meeting about an investigative story when word came from a producer: There had been gunshots at a grocery store in Boulder. Grim experience quickly kicked in.

“Every journalist goes through tough stories,” he said. “We are not alone with it. It’s just unfortunate that we’ve had in Colorado, a number of these, that have given us, for lack of a better term, training in how to try to deal with these things. But it’s still going to be awful.”

His team of reporters may be among the few people in the news media covering the aftermath of the massacre, which he knows from experience will be a difficult assignment. After Columbine, national reporters stayed in the area for months. After Aurora, they stayed for a few weeks, he said. He suspects it will only be a matter of days before national news outlets leave Boulder.

“Maybe the country is tired of them,” he said. “I’m tired of them. If I never got to cover one of these damn things again, I’ll be fine.”

“But nothing changes,” he added. “That’s what drives me nuts. Nothing changes.”

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Dominion Sues Fox News, Claiming Defamation in Election Coverage

Fox News and its powerful owner, Rupert Murdoch, are facing a second major defamation suit over the network’s coverage of the 2020 presidential election, a new front in the growing legal battle over media disinformation and its consequences.

In the latest aftershock of Donald J. Trump’s attempt to undermine President Biden’s victory, Dominion Voting Systems, an election technology company that was at the center of a baseless pro-Trump conspiracy about rigged voting machines, sued Fox News on Friday for advancing lies that devastated its reputation and business.

Dominion, which has requested a jury trial, is seeking at least $1.6 billion in damages. The lawsuit comes less than two months after Smartmatic, another election tech company, filed a $2.7 billion lawsuit against Mr. Murdoch’s Fox Corporation and named the Fox anchors Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro as defendants.

In a 139-page complaint filed in Delaware Superior Court, Dominion portrayed Fox as an active player in spreading falsehoods that the company had altered vote counts and manipulated its machines to benefit Mr. Biden in the election.

Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell for defamation. The company also sued Mike Lindell, the chief executive of MyPillow and a Trump ally who was also a frequent guest on Fox and other conservative media outlets. Each of those suits seeks damages of more than $1 billion.

“The truth matters,” Dominion’s lawyers wrote in Friday’s complaint against Fox. “Lies have consequences. Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process. If this case does not rise to the level of defamation by a broadcaster, then nothing does.”

In a statement on Friday, Fox said that its 2020 election coverage “stands in the highest tradition of American journalism” and pledged to “vigorously defend against this baseless lawsuit in court.”

Dominion’s filing on Friday represented what its lawyers called a new phase in its battle against its detractors, and Thomas A. Clare, part of the company’s legal team, said it was unlikely to be the last lawsuit filed. His firm, Clare Locke, has in recent weeks joined with the firm Susman Godfrey, which is known for taking cases to trial.

filed a motion to dismiss the Smartmatic lawsuit, arguing that the false claims of electoral fraud made on its channels were part of covering a fast-breaking story of significant public interest. “An attempt by a sitting president to challenge the result of an election is objectively newsworthy,” Fox wrote in the motion.

The narrative that Mr. Trump and his allies spun about Dominion was among the more baroque creations of a monthslong effort to cast doubt on the 2020 election results and convince Americans that Mr. Biden’s victory was not legitimate.

Dominion, founded in 2002, is one of the largest manufacturers of voting machine equipment in the United States; its equipment was used by election authorities in more than two dozen states last year, including several states carried by Mr. Trump.

Allies of Mr. Trump falsely portrayed Dominion as biased toward Mr. Biden and argued, without evidence, that it was tied to Hugo Chávez, the long-dead Venezuelan dictator. John Poulos, Dominion’s founder, and other employees received harassing and threatening messages from people convinced that the company had undermined the election results, according to the complaint.

Fox News and Fox Business programs were among the mass-media venues where Mr. Trump’s supporters denounced Dominion. The lawsuit also cites examples of Fox hosts, including Ms. Bartiromo and Ms. Dobbs, uncritically repeating or vouching for false claims made by Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell.

“Fox took a small flame and turned it into a forest fire,” Dominion wrote in the lawsuit. “As the dominant media company among those viewers dissatisfied with the election results, Fox gave these fictions a prominence they otherwise would never have achieved.”

faced a reckoning of sorts from the threat of defamation litigation, a relatively novel tactic in a battle against disinformation that had previously been limited to ad boycotts and liberal public pressure campaigns.

In February, two days after Smartmatic filed its suit, Fox Business canceled “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” its highest-rated program. Newsmax, a pro-Trump cable channel also facing potential legal action, cut off Mr. Lindell when he repeated falsehoods about rigged voting machines.

Taken together, Dominion and Smartmatic are demanding at least $4.3 billion in damages from Fox. Controlled by Mr. Murdoch, 90, and his elder son, Lachlan, the Fox Corporation reported that it had made $3 billion in pretax profit from September 2019 to September 2020, on revenue of $12.3 billion.

the network’s early projection that Mr. Biden would carry Arizona.

Dominion also makes the case that Fox and its hosts benefited from uncritically repeating these baseless claims. The suit cites a postelection rise in ratings for anchors like Ms. Bartiromo and Ms. Dobbs, and notes that the ex-husband of Ms. Pirro, who spoke on-air of a stolen election, later secured a pardon from Mr. Trump.

“Fox has had a problem because a lot of its pundits have said the very things that have led Dominion to bring this lawsuit,” the First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams said in an interview.

In its response to the Smartmatic suit, Fox argued that its reporting on the election should be viewed in its totality — pointing out that at least one host, Tucker Carlson, voiced skepticism about Ms. Powell’s statements — and that claims by the president’s lawyers in an election dispute were inherently newsworthy. “This lawsuit strikes at the heart of the news media’s First Amendment mission to inform on matters of public concern,” Fox wrote in that motion.

Mr. Zick, the First Amendment lawyer, said that Dominion had included an implicit response to that argument: “This isn’t neutral reportage. It’s disinformation for profit.”

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Dominion Voting sues Fox News for $1.6bn over 2020 election claims – US politics live

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