Media Matters' Angelo Carusone details Fox News’ brazen attempt to court advertisers amid Dominion lawsuit

Carusone: “One of the people they’re bringing in front of them is Jeanine Pirro, who’s responsible for a lot of this election misinformation”

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Citation From the March 22, 2023, edition of MSNBC's Deadline: White House 

ALICIA MENENDEZ (HOST): Even as the American public holds its collective breath, so absorbed, transfixed by historic decisions being made in a lower Manhattan courthouse, they're also monitoring a crucial story developing now within the walls of a separate one in Delaware. Including earlier this afternoon, day two of oral arguments for what's called a summary judgment hearing in the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox brought by Dominion Voting Systems.

With the actual trial set to begin in less than a month, both sides today ask the judge to rule in their favor before it goes in front of a jury. And while it appears unlikely the judge will grant that wish for either side, he said today he'd issue his decision within a week.

This stage of the pre-trial process is offering an astounding inside look at what we could see come mid-April. The transcript of yesterday's marathon hearing reveals, clear as day, a preview of what each side could argue next month. 

Dominion suggests the mountain of evidence it has provided proves Fox personalities and executives alike knew claims about election fraud were fake, but that the network went ahead and aired them anyway. Defamation. In response, Fox has asserted the First Amendment protects them completely. After a review of these transcripts, the judge appeared more skeptical of arguments made by Fox than by Dominion.

Notably, that judge compelled Fox's lawyer to admit something. "Are we going to the jury with that it may be true that Dominion committed election fraud by rigging the 2020 presidential election? And if we're going with that notion, I need to know from you what evidence you have that Dominion rigged the 20 20 election. Are you going to present any evidence on that?"

The response from Fox's lawyer: "We are not defending on the ground that those allegations are true, so we are not looking to present to the jury a case about the truth or falsity of those allegations."


I mean, Angelo, as someone who constantly watches and tracks Fox News, I wonder what you are watching for as it relates to the news network and as it relates to Dominion. Because in this case, it was Dominion -- come up a next election, it it could be another entity.

ANGELO CARUSONE (MEDIA MATTERS PRESIDENT): Yeah. And then there's two things I've watched for. One is their coverage now and sort of how this affects it. And my overall sense is that Fox is gonna burn brighter and hotter, and we all just need to be prepared for that.

And what we're seeing unfold here with these Dominion filings is that they were willing not only to brazenly lie, but to help build the scaffolding for attacks on our democracy and then to perpetuate those attacks by and reinforce them with flat out fabrications that they that they sort of knew.

So, I think we can expect them to burn brighter and hotter. They've been pretty brazen. I mean, they secretly met with advertisers, literally, while they were in court yesterday, and one of the people they're bringing in front of them is Jeanine Pirro, who's responsible for a lot of this election misinformation. Or they also presented Jay Wallace, who's an executive there that responded to things that we've seen fold out in the -- in these filings who overrode the decision of Fox's team that's responsible for calling states.

He overruled the decision of the team, that was being led by a guy Bill Sammon, to call Nevada, which would have then called the election for Joe Biden. He overrode that decision and said, "We're not gonna do that." And in part, it was born out of a conversation they had after Fox received all that blowback when they called Arizona for Joe Biden.

So, I look at that. That's what I'm looking on the content side is that they are gonna burn brighter and hotter. They're going to sort of race for that finish line, grab as much as they can before they deal with any consequences or accountability here.