“Incredibly damning”: A new report shows legal experts stunned at revelations in Fox/Dominion case

“This filing is different”

The Washington Post is out with a new report this morning detailing the stunned reaction from legal experts to Dominion's newly released filing in its defamation lawsuit against Fox Corp. and Fox News. The entire piece is worth reading, but here are some selections:

If so, the messages could amount to powerful body of evidence against Fox, according to First Amendment experts, because they meet a critical and difficult-to-meet standard in such cases.

“You just don’t often get smoking-gun evidence of a news organization saying internally, ‘We know this is patently false, but let’s forge ahead with it,’” said RonNell Andersen Jones, a University of Utah professor who specializes in media law.


'While it’s true that the Supreme Court [in Sullivan] has set a high bar for plaintiffs, a high bar doesn’t mean no bar,” said Sonja R. West, a First Amendment scholar at the University of Georgia law school “What we’re seeing in this case looks an awful lot like the exception that proves the rule. The First Amendment often protects speakers who make innocent or even negligent mistakes, but this does not mean they can knowingly tell lies that damage the reputation of others.”


“Those of us who study these sorts of defamation claims against the media are much more accustomed to cases that have a variety of pieces of circumstantial evidence of reckless disregard for the truth,” Andersen Jones said. “This filing is different.”

She noted that the internal messages show key figures at Fox casting aspersions on Fox’s own decisions. They also show an unusually clear timeline and motivation, she said, noting that Fox continued to broadcast allegedly defamatory statements even after Dominion had alerted the network that the claims were false. There’s also evidence that Fox executives decided to keep broadcasting the false statements because they feared losing viewers if they didn’t.

“We just don’t have examples of major media cases with this kind of evidentiary record,” she said.


West put it even more starkly.

The messages, she said, are “incredibly damning.”

You can read a thorough listing of what was in the filing here. Media Matters has pulled out the top revelations from the filing as well; read that here. And you can find Media Matters' complete coverage of this lawsuit and others like it here.