FOX News Media Moves to Dismiss Dominion Lawsuit
May 18, 2021 at 18:11 PM EDT
“There are two sides to every story. The press must remain free to cover both sides, or there will be a free press no more.”
FOX News Media today filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems, stating the complaint seeks to “stifle the media’s free-speech right to inform the public.”
Jointly filing the motion to dismiss on behalf of FOX News Media, Jackson Walker Partner Chip Babcock and Lehotsky Keller Partner Scott Keller commented, “There are two sides to every story. The press must remain free to cover both sides, or there will be a free press no more. The freedoms of speech and press would be illusory if the prevailing party could obtain billions of dollars from the press because it provided a forum for the losing side.”
The motion characterizes Dominion’s complaint as threatening “the deeply enshrined protections for the free press” and outlines two key reasons for dismissal. Chiefly, the filing states Dominion failed to identify “any actionable defamation” by FOX News Media, nor did it plead facts “alleging that FOX published the challenged speech with actual malice.” The First Amendment and New York law independently protect media reporting and commentary on newsworthy allegations, and allegations from the sitting President of the United States and his legal team are inherently newsworthy. Well-established doctrine protects the media’s ability to report and comment specifically on government proceedings such as election recounts, official investigations, and civil litigation—all of which were pending during the election.
Moreover, “FOX hosts did not create allegations against Dominion.” The motion to dismiss points out that Dominion faced lawsuits alleging election irregularities well before the November presidential election. Referencing 2019 legal claims that remain pending, Georgia voters argued that using Dominion’s “unaccountable, unverifiable” system “will be a colossal train wreck for democracy” because it “produces unaccountable, inherently evidence-free election outcomes by its very design.” Furthermore, the filing cites a PBS NewsHour report last October, well ahead of the November election, that featured a University of Michigan computer science professor who “worried” that Dominion’s system “is the technical equivalent to the 737 MAX.”
The motion to dismiss concludes that Dominion failed to state a claim “under any applicable pleading standard” and further cites protections under New York’s Anti-SLAPP statute as FOX News Media’s coverage was “addressing statements regarding matters of public concern.” Therefore, Dominion did not demonstrate a “substantial basis in law” for its claim, and “Dominion cannot recover ‘under any reasonably conceivable set of circumstances.’”
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