A former Fox News employee is suing her employer over sexual abuse she claims she suffered at the hands of the network’s late longtime CEO Roger Ailes. Fox News Lawsuit also claims Ailes’ hatchet man, Bill Shine, allowed and enabled the behavior.
The suit, filed in a New York state court Wednesday, is closely watched by First Amendment experts and advocates. It raises important questions about whether a news media company can be held liable for reporting false information.
Dominion Voting Systems
Dominion Voting Systems, Inc., the second-largest voting machine company in the U.S., filed a defamation Fox News Lawsuit its against and its affiliates in 2021. It accuses the network of spreading false conspiracy theories about its voting machines that helped former President Trump win.
The plaintiffs say Fox and its hosts knowingly provided a platform for guests that they knew would make false claims about Dominion on air. Those statements were then republished on Fox’s website, social media accounts, and other digital platforms, and on their subscription services.
According to the complaint, Dominion’s employees were “seriously and frequently” harmed by the false allegations. The company said it was left with a negative impact on its reputation and suffered from lost sales, increased employee anxiety, and lost business as a result of the falsehoods.
As the suit progressed, Dominion alleged that hosts on the network affirmed, repeated, and agreed with many of those false statements. They also continued to republish those falsehoods, even when they were proven untrue.
During a December 2020 show, Lou Dobbs claimed that the 2020 election was a “cyber Pearl Harbor” and connected the disputed voting technology with a “massive and coordinated effort to steal this election from We the People of the United States of America.” He also embedded a document containing information he allegedly obtained from his sources, which asserted that Dominion concealed a controller within its voting machines.
Meanwhile, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro pushed similar conspiracy theories on the air. They referred to Sharpie markers that often bled through ballots as evidence of voter fraud, and said Dominion’s voting equipment was being used to flip votes from President Trump to Vice President Joe Biden.
The hosts and the networks acted with malice, Dominion alleges, by continuing to disseminate the falsehoods, despite the fact that they had been proven to be inaccurate. Dominion says its employees were harmed by the falsehoods, and the libel claims could have serious consequences for the industry.
Dominion is expected to depose several of Fox’s top executives, including Lachlan Murdoch, CEO and Chairman of Fox Corporation. He and his father, James Murdoch, will be the highest-ranking Fox officials to face questioning. The case is being watched closely by media experts and advocates, and it’s expected to be one of the most high-profile libel cases in history.
Dobbs was an anchor for Fox Business, and he became a mainstay of the channel’s business news coverage. His views often went beyond what a typical network program covers, but they still made him a draw among right-wing viewers who shared his hard-line stance against unchecked immigration and interest in questioning President Obama’s birthplace.
In a lawsuit filed last year, a Venezuelan businessman accused Dobbs and his former Fox co-host, Sidney Powell, of defaming him in the course of their December 2020 show by alleging that he rigged the presidential election. Lawyers for Dobbs, the Fox Corporation, and Fox News tried to get a judge to dismiss the case, but Stanton found that the lawsuit could move forward because the plaintiff had “made sufficient claims that Fox may be held liable for the defamatory statements.”
But it seems likely that Dobbs was cut loose before the lawsuit was fully developed because he was removed from the Fox Business lineup earlier this month. He was removed from the network’s morning shows as well, but he is still under contract to Fox News, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The move came the day after a $2.7 billion defamation suit was filed by voting technology company Smartmatic against Fox, Dobbs, and two of his co-hosts, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro. The suit accuses the hosts of continuing a disinformation campaign that spread false and misleading information about Smartmatic’s role in the election, damaging the company’s reputation and business.
One of the most important factors in winning a defamation Fox News Lawsuit is to demonstrate that a defendant knowingly broadcasted false and misleading information, or did so with actual malice, meaning with reckless disregard for the truth. But it is difficult to prove this in court because many people will believe that the information was true even if there is evidence that it was not.
The lawsuit has put a tremendous amount of pressure on Fox, and many legal experts are concerned that it will be difficult for the network to defend itself in court. But Fox’s legal team has bolstered its ranks by adding veteran trial attorney Dan Webb. And it has also emphasized the need to focus on delivering the news to conservative viewers who turn to the network as an alternative to so-called mainstream media, while not alienating less ideological voters who make up a significant portion of its audience.
Maria Bartiromo is a senior editor and anchor for Fox Business Network (FBN). She is the host of Mornings with Maria and Sunday Morning Futures, one of the highest-rated Sunday morning programs on cable.
She has worked as a financial journalist for over 20 years and is widely recognized as an expert on Wall Street and the economy. Her reports have been cited in numerous publications and she has won several prestigious awards. She has also been named one of the 50 Faces That Shaped the Decade and has been inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame class of 2011.
During her time at FBN, Bartiromo has interviewed a wide range of leaders, including former President Donald Trump, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd, Microsoft Founder Bill Gates, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. She has also conducted in-depth interviews with a number of people involved in the economic crisis and her interviews are widely syndicated around the world.
In the wake of the 2020 election, Bartiromo was instrumental in bringing up claims that voting machines could have changed a single vote from Joe Biden to Donald Trump. These false claims were made repeatedly on her show and in a series of interviews with far-right attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani.
Dominion Voting Systems, the company that manufactured the machines that were used in the 2020 election, sued Fox News for libel over its amplification of these unfounded claims. The lawsuit is currently pending in New York.
The lawsuit alleges that Fox knowingly and intentionally promoted the claims that Dominion systems rigged the elections without challenging them on air or in print. It calls for the company to be awarded damages based on the damages caused by the false and misleading allegations.
According to the lawsuit, Bartiromo and others pushed the false claims on her program “Mornings with Maria,” as well as in interviews with Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro. In particular, the lawsuit says, Bartiromo “expressed an avowed and passionate belief that voting systems in the 2020 presidential election were hacked to change the outcome.”
It’s a defamation suit that threatens to expose the murky backstage politics at Fox News, which is the nation’s most-watched television network. Dominion is suing for more than $1.7 billion and is demanding that Fox pay its damages.
Jeanine Pirro is a legal and political commentator who has covered breaking news such as the Aurora theater shooting, the Casey Anthony trial in Orlando, Florida, the Drew Peterson trial in Chicago, Illinois, and the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting. Her no-nonsense analysis, fearlessness, and sense of humor make her a popular speaker and one of Fox News Channel’s top hosts.
She is currently hosting “Justice with Judge Jeanine” on the Fox News Channel. Throughout her time on the network, she has garnered millions of hits by commentating on current events and political issues. Her opening statements – a commentary on the latest political and social issues – are a source of discussion among audiences.
Pirro, who was a defendant in the Smartmatic defamation suit, has a long and storied relationship with President Donald Trump. The two have a close bond and often appear together on the air to discuss political issues, especially those that affect women.
In December, after Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation Fox News Lawsuit its against and its anchors, Dominion said that Pirro had repeated false claims about the company’s voting machines on her show. She also read Dominion’s own denials on the air, according to a motion by Dominion.
Dominion alleges that Fox News and its anchors knowingly pushed false claims about the election fraud involving Smartmatic’s voting machines, which were used in six states with tight races. It is a billion-dollar lawsuit that has ensnared some of the network’s highest-profile personalities, including Pirro, Carlson, Dobbs, Hannity, and Bartiromo.
The defamation suit is being fought in a Delaware state court, where a judge has already allowed the plaintiff to move forward with a trial date for April 2021. Dominion and its lawyers have filed rival motions before the judge, who has set a deadline for discovery and depositions to be completed in mid-October.
In addition to Pirro, a host of other top Fox News personalities have been deposed by Dominion attorneys. Dobbs, Bartiromo, Hannity, and Kudlow have been questioned about their views on the matter. Dominion has petitioned to receive the contracts of Bartiromo, Carlson, and Dobbs and has obtained the employment records of Hannity. But it is unclear if those records will be admissible at the trial.