Dominion Voting Machines and Its Case Against Fox

Elections & Politics Policy Brief #70 | By: Maureen Darby-Serson | March 20, 2023

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Policy Summary

Dominion, known publicly for the use of their voting machines during the 2020 election, sued Fox news for defamation in court, with some documents being made public this past month. These recently released documents revealed that Fox News knew that the 2020 election was not stolen and still openly reported that President Joe Biden had not been the real winner of the election. Fox News reported that there was widespread voter fraud in public while, behind closed doors, acknowledged to colleagues that they were not aware of any legitimate evidence of such. 

The $1.6 billion lawsuit brings up many questions. Why is Dominion suing? Does the first amendment cover Fox News? What will happen if this case goes to trial?

Dominion Voting Machines and Its Case Against Fox News

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Policy Analysis

Dominion, a popular voting machine manufacture, is suing Fox News for defamation, stating that Fox  published at least four statements that they knew were not true regarding the company. According to court fillings, the four statements are as follows:

  1. Dominion committed election fraud by rigging the 2020 Presidential Election.

  2. Dominion’s software and algorithms manipulated vote counts in the 2020 Presidential Election.

  3. Dominion is owned by a company founded in Venezuela to rig elections for the dictator Hugo Chavez.

  4. Dominion paid kickbacks to government officials who used its machines in the 2020 Presidential Election.

Dominion Voting Machines and Its Case Against Fox News

Photo taken from: / Alexi Rosenfeld / Getty Images

Dominion claims that, despite publishing all the above, Fox News knew that all these statements were not true. In addition, they claim that, despite all the evidence government officials released showing that Dominion voting machines were effective and not faulty, Fox News spread lies and conspiracies to steal the 2020 Presidential election. This, in turn, hurt their company and its name. Fox News argues that their reporting is covered under the first amendment protection of free speech and freedom of the press. 

The first amendment under the U.S. Constitution does protect free speech and freedom of the press. The issue with this case is that the Constitution protects the press when they make good faith mistakes in reporting, it does not protect them against reporting news which they know is not true. The court filling recently made public shows that Fox News employees knew that they were reporting false claims but still reported it as fact anyways. This shows that it was not a good faith mistake, and would cause major issues for Fox News if the case ever went to trial. A jury would have to find that Fox News made a good faith mistake in reporting to be covered under the first amendment. This is unlikely after the release of the various text messages, emails, and statements by Fox executives this past month.

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