Fox Corporation executives, including Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, had no direct involvement in what aired on the company’s cable news channels, and therefore their company should not be found liable in a $1.6 billion defamation case, lawyers for Fox argued Wednesday in a Delaware court.
The argument was part of Fox’s request for a pretrial victory. Dominion Voting Systems has accused both Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corporation, of defaming the business. Dominion says Fox’s shows repeatedly linked its voting machines to a vast conspiracy of fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Erin Murphy, a lawyer for both Fox Corporation and Fox News, said there was no evidence that corporate executives were involved in the Fox News shows in question. She said Dominion would need to show that they had directly participated in the broadcasts to meet the high standard needed to prove defamation.
Ms. Murphy conceded that some of the executives had the power to bar certain guests from the shows, but said: “It’s not enough for them to show that they have the ability to step in. They have to have been involved.”
Fox has asked that Fox Corporation be dropped from the lawsuit.
Dominion must prove that Fox knowingly broadcast false information about the company, or was reckless enough to disregard substantial evidence that the claims were not true. Defamation cases have traditionally proved hard to win because of the First Amendment’s broad free speech protections. But legal experts say Dominion may have enough evidence to clear that high bar.
Dominion, too, is asking for summary judgment; its legal team gave its arguments in Delaware Superior Court on Tuesday. The judge, Eric M. Davis, said he would make his decision by April 11. A jury trial is scheduled to start April 17.
Judge Davis told both sides on Wednesday that he preferred for trial witnesses to appear in person rather than over a video link, setting up the possibility that Fox News hosts like Maria Bartiromo and Tucker Carlson could show up. He said Rupert Murdoch might also be compelled to testify in person, though he did not issue any decisions on the matter.
“Republican Rep. Jim Jordan Issues Sweeping Information Requests to Universities Researching Disinformation”
ouse Republicans have sent letters to at least three universities and a think tank requesting a broad range of documents related to what it says are the institutions’ contributions to the Biden administration’s “censorship regime.”
The letters are the latest effort by a House subcommittee set up in January to investigate how the federal government, working with social media companies, has allegedly been “weaponized” to silence conservative and right-wing voices. So far, the committee’s investigations have amplified a variety of dubious, outright false and highly misleading Republican grievances with law enforcement, many of them espoused by former President Donald Trump. Committee members have cited supposed abuses that include the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, its investigations of Jan. 6 rioters and the Biden administration’s purported use of executive powers to shut down conservative viewpoints on social media.
Now, universities and their researchers are coming under the spotlight of the committee, which the Republicans have labeled the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. The letters, signed by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who is chair of both the House Judiciary Committee and the subcommittee, were sent in early March.
They cover an investigation into how “certain third parties, including organizations like yours, may have played a role in this censorship regime by advising on so-called ‘misinformation,’” according to a copy of one of the letters obtained by ProPublica….
The letters have prompted a wave of alarm among those in the field that the congressional inquiry itself, no matter what it finds, will lead universities to pull back on this research just as the 2024 election gets underway. “Recent efforts definitely have a chilling effect on the community of experts across academia, civil society and government built up to understand broader online harms like harassment, foreign influence and — yes — disinformation,” Graham Brookie, who leads studies in this area at the Atlantic Council, told ProPublica.
“The ‘weaponization’ committee is being weaponized against us,” another researcher told ProPublica. Like half a dozen others interviewed for this story, this person asked not to be identified because of the ongoing congressional probe….
Since the 2016 elections, Stanford, UW, Clemson and others have engaged in research, sometimes in partnership with social media platforms, government officials and each other, into ways that disinformation can pose threats to democracy and how such efforts can be meaningfully countered. The role of lies and disinformation leading to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol gave increased prominence to their work….
Stanford did not answer a question about whether it stood by its research or make its researchers, the Stanford Internet Observatory’s Alex Stamos or Renee DiResta, available for comment. The university referred ProPublica to an online fact sheet addressing “inaccurate and misleading claims” made in the congressional testimony about Stanford’s “projects to analyze rumors and narratives on social media relating to U.S. elections and the coronavirus.” The German Marshall fund said it was working to address the request and Clemson University’s media relations department did not respond to requests for comment.
The University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public issued a statement that said “We’re incredibly proud of our work,” adding that “some of the projects CIP researchers have contributed to have become the subject of false claims and criticism that mischaracterizes our work, a tactic that peer researchers in this space are also experiencing.” The statement did not specifically address the House requests.
A university spokesperson, Victor Balta, said in an email, “The UW stands behind this important research aiming to resist strategic misinformation and strengthen our discourse. We have received a request for documents and information, and a response is in progress.”
Wisconsin: “5 takeaways from the only Supreme Court election debate. Daniel Kelly and Janet Protasiewicz take the gloves off.”
For nearly an hour, Kelly and Protasiewicz battled at the State Bar of Wisconsin’s headquarters in Madison — accusing each other of running deceitful campaigns and being an unprecedented danger to the state.
Protasiewicz called Kelly one of the most “extremely partisan candidates” in the history of the state.
“He is a true threat to our democracy,” she said, citing legal counsel Kelly provided to state GOP officials while they planned to submit false paperwork claiming to be electors for former President Donald Trump following Trump’s defeat in 2020.
Kelly repeatedly called Protasiewicz a liar and said the only way to restore trust in the Supreme Court would be for him to be elected. …
Kelly said he would not accept millions from the state Republican Party because he does not want to be known as a Supreme Court justice who is “bought and paid for.”
“I understand my opponent has been accepting millions of dollars from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and I think that presents a major problem,” Kelly said. “If she were to be elected to the Supreme Court, she would forever afterwards be known as being bought and paid for by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.”
Kelly in his unsuccessful 2020 campaign also used the Republican Party of Wisconsin’s offices as his campaign headquarters and state GOP staff are providing 2023 campaign help in the form of communications and research. He also has received contributions from the state GOP, including around $4,000 in March.
Protasiewicz said she would recuse herself from hearing lawsuits brought by or against the Democratic Party of Wisconsin because of the millions of dollars the state party has funneled into her campaign.
She accused Kelly of already being “bought and paid for” by the Republicans because he worked for the party and Republican National Committee for two years on election issues and was paid nearly $120,000. Kelly said he is an attorney and is hired by many clients.
Jason Marisam has posted this draft on SSRN (forthcoming, UCLA Law Review Discourse). Here is the abstract:
In 2020 and 2022, multiple Republican county canvassers refused to perform their ministerial duty to approve election returns, obstructing the official certification of the results. The canvassers latched onto false claims of fraud and other conspiracies advanced by election deniers. They eventually relented, because of court orders and public pressure. The elections produced official winners, and crisis was averted. But, as long as election denialism rots our political discourse, election obstruction by canvassers will be a persistent risk with significant dangers for our democracy. This Essay provides a brief history of election obstruction by canvassers, examines the modern link between election denialism and election obstruction, and proposes two solutions to minimize the risk of election obstruction – diversifying canvassing institutions and bypassing county canvassers for national and statewide races.
“DeSantis’s Election Fraud Police Spur Copycat Efforts in GOP-Led States”
Four Republican-led states are working to add new police agencies specifically to target voter fraud, following the example set by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Florida’s elections cop squad has faltered in its most high-profile cases since launching in July. But that hasn’t slowed down state legislators in Texas, Missouri, Ohio and Arkansas who have proposed bills that would create new police agencies to investigate voter fraud, an exceedingly rare crime typically handled by local police and elections officials.
“Politico’s Pre-Written Thesis about the Federalist Society Collides with Its Own Reporting”
Dan McLaughlin at NR responds to a Politico piece that I linked to earlier:
One of the saddest sights in journalism is when a writer goes to report on an event with a predetermined story line, puts in the time, can’t find evidence to support the narrative, and then writes the story anyway. There are some obvious tells in this sort of story, such as elevating marginal, unnamed figures at the event, lapsing into very rough paraphrases, speculating aloud about what the targets of the writer’s reportage must have been thinking, and padding out the column with lots of verbiage that doesn’t advance proof of the writer’s point.
All of these symptoms can be found in Ian Ward’s long, splashy Politico column on Friday about the Federalist Society’s National Student Symposium on “Law and Democracy.”…