Mediaite Founding Editor Colby Hall told Newsnation anchor Nichole Berlie that the latest development in the $1.6 billion Dominion defamation suit is “devastating for Fox News.”
Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis issued a ruling that denied Fox’s motions for summary judgment in their entirety, and issued a partial summary judgment in Dominion’s favor on Friday in a scathing opinion that shredded a key Fox legal argument.
On Friday’s edition of Newsnation: Rush Hour, Berlie asked Hall if the ruling is all that damaging, saying the case “is not a slam dunk by any means”:
Nichole Berlie: Well, breaking this afternoon, a federal judge making his decision in the $1.6 million defamation lawsuit against Fox News. The judge has ruled. Dominion voting systems will see its day in court. Dominion leveled its lawsuit against Fox News in the wake of the 2020 presidential election after hosts on the conservative network repeatedly reported the voting system helped steal the election from former President Trump. Both Fox and Dominion voting appeared in front of the judge for a pretrial hearing last week, and Fox called the claims, quote, baseless but unsuccessfully ultimately tried to get that suit thrown out. Joining us now, News Nation media contributor Colby Hall. So, Colby, this is certainly what Dominion had wanted. This is not what Fox wanted. But what does this mean going forward? Because we’ve already talked about, this is not a slam dunk by any means for Dominion voting systems.
Colby Hall: Well, I think today’s ruling was actually pretty devastating for Fox News. The judge made it very, very clear that he had little understanding or patience for Fox News’ argument. So both Fox News and Dominion filed for a summary judgment. The judge rejected Fox, but they did find in favor of Dominion, and his statement was stunning. He wrote, let me to read to you this, “the evidence developed in a civil proceeding demonstrates that it is crystal clear that none of the statements relating to Brennan about the 2020 election are true.” He put that in italics. All caps crystal and bolded crystal. You’ll never see a judge make those sorts of final decisions and choices in a decision like this. So they found 20 instances of Fox News talent saying false statements about Fox. He found that to be defamation. It will go to trial where they will sort of try. The case of malice was basically it was Fox News doing this with malicious intent or were they doing it purposely with knowledge? That will be difficult to prove. It will be a fascinating trial to follow. The media trial of the century probably will occur over the course of the next month.
Nichole Berlie: Right. With more than one and a half billion dollars up for grabs here. Colby, let’s talk about Dominion. When some of Fox’s biggest executives, as well as talent to potentially take the stand. We’re talking Rupert Murdoch talking. Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, is it possible we will see them on the stand?
Colby Hall: It’s possible. I still believe that, you know, they’re asking for $1.6 billion. And Fox thinks, understandably, that’s absurd. This decision today made that number and a potentially agreeable number higher. I think Fox will pay …you know, settlements always happen on the eve of an actual trial. I think if the choice is to depart 1.6 or maybe $1,000,000,000 or have their talent and Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch and other executives take the stand and potentially be embarrassed beyond really hurt their reputation, they’ll pay the billion. They have 4 billion in cash, and that might be the cost of doing business. So you know, I also feel like Tucker Carlson and Sean HANNITY and Laura Ingraham and their executives, these are not dummies. These are talented professional speakers. They do it every night. So they’re going on trial would be a fascinating thing to see for a lot of reasons. And maybe the best case for Fox is to put their best talent on the stand and explain what they were doing.
Nichole Berlie: Yeah, it certainly would be fascinating to watch. No doubt they’re all right. Colby Hall, thank you so much.
Colby Hall: Thanks for having me.
Watch above via Newsnation: Rush Hour.
A spokesperson for Fox News provided Mediaite with the following statement: “This case is and always has been about the First Amendment protections of the media’s absolute right to cover the news. FOX will continue to fiercely advocate for the rights of free speech and a free press as we move into the next phase of these proceedings.”
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