In a nearby post I link to Dominion’s brief in support of its motion for summary judgment in the defamation case it has brought against Fox Corporation and Fox News Network (FNN). The Fox entities have also moved for summary judgment dismissing the claims. Fox Corporation’s 32-page opening brief denying responsibility is posted here. FNN’s 192-page opening brief is the one of interest and is posted here. Deadline has posted both briefs and covers the give and take in its story here.
My interest has been focused on what executives and hosts were saying behind the scenes at the time of the events in issue. The internal communications suggest a high level of awareness of the falsity of the allegations made by Trump, his legal, and his spokesmen. The FNN brief steps back to take in unfolding events and place them in the context of “Dominion’s history of controversy” as well as the applicable First Amendment protections adopted by the Supreme Court. In an introductory statement, for example, Fox News argues:
In its coverage, Fox News fulfilled its commitment to inform fully and comment fairly. Some hosts viewed the President’s claims skeptically; others viewed them hopefully; all recognized them as profoundly newsworthy. As part of that coverage, several hosts offered members of the President’s legal team the opportunity to explain their allegations and whether they would be able to muster enough evidence quickly enough to prove them in court before the mid-December deadline for certifying electoral votes. Sometimes the President’s advocates accepted those invitations; sometimes they declined. As the story unfolded, and Dominion denied many of the allegations, Fox News covered those denials too, including by reporting Dominion’s position, giving Dominion the opportunity to tell its side, and soliciting the views of disinterested third parties on the allegations and their likelihood of making a difference in election outcomes, sometimes in a debate-like format….
At pages 23-35, the brief makes out its on-air skepticism of the Trump party line. The brief shows FNN delivering the news in good faith with opportunities for both sides to be heard. The brief points out: “When the President’s lawyers failed to produce conclusive evidence of their claims before the mid-December deadline for casting electoral votes, however, Fox News hosts stopped having Giuliani and Powell on their shows.”
Consistent with my own observation in the linked post, FNN’s brief further distinguishes between statements made on air by guests and Fox News anchors or hosts. As always, I urge interested readers to check out the materials for themselves.