“Fox News’ defense in defamation suit invokes debunked election-fraud claims”

David Folkenflik for NPR:

Fox News’ attorneys have set out the starkest defense yet against the accusation the network defamed an election-technology company when it broadcast false claims that the company had cheated then-President Donald Trump of victory in the 2020 election.

The overwhelming majority of Fox’s argument was made in sealed motions filed last week asking the presiding judge to dismiss Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion suit before it is to go to trial in April. Yet in supplementary public filings, the contours of the Fox team’s reasoning emerge more sharply in focus.

Of the approximately 115 statements on Fox by its hosts and guests that Dominion contends are defamatory, Fox News wrote in its filing, “there is not a single statement for which Dominion can prove every element of its claim for defamation.”

Fox and Dominion did not comment for this story….

In those documents, Fox’s attorneys offer “omitted context” for the seemingly incendiary remarks by such hosts as Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, as well as their featured guests, including Trump and his former campaign attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell. That context includes assertions that have long since been debunked and rebutted in dozens of court challenges and by local and state election officials from both parties.

Among them: claims that the use of Sharpie markers in Maricopa County, Arizona, had invalidated the votes cast by Trump supporters because the ink often bled through the ballots. Allegations of voter fraud in Detroit. The sworn deposition of an anonymous witness who said he was a former member of the Venezuelan presidential security team and accused Dominion of committing election fraud in the U.S.

All of these allegations have been disproven. Many were unraveled in real time during the 2020 election season – often by Fox’s own reporters.

Fox News’ legal team does not defend them as correct. Instead, its filings suggest that the Fox stars relaying them on the air reflected an appropriate journalistic response to stark claims about the functioning of American democracy, as they involve “questions to a newsmaker on newsworthy subjects” or they “accurately report on pending allegations.”

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