Fox News spent months repeating Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 Election, even going so far as to claim that Dominion Voting Systems rigged the election for President Joe Biden. Now they are paying the consequences in court for it.
Despite the courts dismissing dozens of lawsuits claiming that the election was rigged and multiple recounts and investigations that found no evidence of election fraud beyond the very real cases committed by Trump supporters, Fox News ignored the facts in favor of slandering Democrats and Dominion Voting Systems. The malicious propaganda has been spouted by several Fox hosts, including Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Jeanine Pirro, and Lou Dobbs among others. And Fox News has tried to defend these lies as protected by the First Amendment.
Of course, those lies pushed hundreds of Trump supporters to violently storm the Capitol on January 6th in a failed attempt to overthrow democracy and install Trump as a dictator.
Dominion soon slapped Fox News with a massive $1.6 billion lawsuit, which will now proceed to trial after Superior Court Judge Eric Davis ruled against Fox News’ arguments in Delaware this week.
Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple explained why the ruling is disastrous for Fox News.
“[T]he Fox News motion to dismiss spelled the last gasp of ‘both sides-ism,’ the idea that the media’s job is to place conflicting positions before the public and go home,” Wemple wrote. “‘There are two sides to every story,’ reads the network’s motion. ‘The press must remain free to cover both sides, or there will be a free press no more.’ The problem with applying that principle to the months spanning the 2020 presidential election and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot is that one side was a ‘big lie’ — namely, that election fraud had robbed then-President Donald Trump of reelection.”
Indeed, Fox News and other right-wing outlets tell outright lies to the public every day and call it information and free speech. They present the lies as facts to brainwash their viewers. This creates hate and anger, enough to the point where it sparks violence.
“Though widely expected, the decision is a slap in the face for Fox News, whose heavy doses of outright false and innuendo-laden programming have often sheltered in the First Amendment,” Wemple continued. “During the early days of the pandemic, for example, a group in Washington state sued the network for allegedly violating consumer protection laws with its dreadful coronavirus coverage. Nonsense, ruled a judge. And who can forget the time the network wiggled out of a defamation suit stemming from Carlson’s show on the grounds that viewers don’t take his material seriously?”
Frankly, the decision in both of those cases is laughable. Fox News absolutely violated consumer protection laws and viewers absolutely take Carlson seriously. The judges who made those rulings ought to be ashamed of themselves because they are part of the problem. Media outlets that lie to the public or put the public in danger should be held accountable.
But now Fox News is finally facing consequences.
“Fox News now may be running out of First Amendment runway,” Wemple concluded. “There’s no clear legal armor for co-opting the biggest lie in recent U.S. memory, encouraging its proponents (e.g. Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani) to repeat it again and again, claiming that two little-known voting companies are part of the scheme — and then claiming the whole shebang is an act of journalism. That won’t work.”
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