Dominion Voting Systems is seeking to compel Fox News’ top TV personalities to appear as witnesses before a jury in a trial scheduled to begin next month.
Dominion’s live witness list of Fox Corp.’s right-wing TV networks includes Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, as well as former host Lou Dobbs and Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott, according to court papers.
Dominion has pointed to 20 broadcasts in which they believe the hosts on Fox News and Fox Business repeated false claims of election fraud and continuously had on guests who repeated those claims. Documents, including text messages and emails, show Fox’s TV hosts were skeptical of the election fraud claims being made on air.
Dominion brought the defamation lawsuit against Fox Corp. and its right wing networks, arguing its hosts pushed false claims that its voting machines were rigged in the 2020 election, which Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden. Trump, who is running for president in 2024, has repeatedly claimed that the election was stolen from him. On Jan. 6, 2021, hundreds of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to block Congress from confirming Biden’s victory.
Dominion and Fox argued during a hearing Tuesday over what witnesses could be present at the trial in April, and logistics around how it will work.
“Dominion’s needlessly expansive live witness list is yet another attempt to generate headlines and distract from the many shortcomings of its case. Ultimately, this case is about the First Amendment protections of the media’s absolute right to cover the news,” a Fox spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday.
Although the elder Murdoch is not being called to appear in person, Fox had opposed the possibility of him going to Delaware in April since he earlier gave seven hours worth of testimony.
Judge Eric Davis on Tuesday said had Murdoch been on the witness list, Fox wouldn’t have been able to argue hardship, given he has recently been engaged and had discussed travel plans.
While both Dominion and Fox last week urged Davis to make a ruling without going to trial next month, the case has to proceed as if a trial will take place. Davis indicated he would make a ruling before the scheduled April 17 trial start date. If a trial occurs, it is expected to last for weeks.
Dominion alleges its business suffered in the months following the election when the claims were made on Fox’s networks.
Fox has denied the claims and has argued it is protected by the First Amendment.
The lawsuit has been heating up recently as reams of evidence from both sides has been published, consisting of pages of full excerpts of testimony from depositions, text messages and emails.
In addition, a former Fox producer, who worked on the shows of Bartiromo and Carlson, came forward last week alleging she was coerced into providing misleading testimony as part of the Dominion lawsuit.
Abby Grossberg, who filed lawsuits against Fox in New York and Delaware, has also accused the network of discrimination. Following her lawsuits going public last week, Grossberg’s attorneys said in court papers that she was fired by Fox in retaliation.
In court papers filed Monday, Grossberg said that while she cannot be compelled to testify at the trial, she would only voluntarily testify on behalf of Dominion.
Grossberg was included on Dominion’s witness list on Tuesday.
A Fox spokesperson explained the decision to fire Grossberg: “Like most organizations, Fox News Media’s attorneys engage in privileged communications with our employees as necessary to provide legal advice. Last week, our attorneys advised Ms. Grossberg that, while she was free to file whatever legal claims she wished, she was in possession of our privileged information and was not authorized to disclose it publicly. We were clear that if she violated our instructions, Fox would take appropriate action including termination. Ms. Grossberg ignored these communications and chose to file her complaint without taking any steps to protect those portions containing Fox’s privileged information. We will continue to vigorously defend Fox against Ms. Grossberg’s unmeritorious legal claims, which are riddled with false allegations against Fox and our employees.”