It was the wildest propagators of theories that President Trump lost the 2020 election not to Biden, but to theft, that Dominion has singled out in its attempt to notch an early win in its defamation suit against Fox.
Attorneys for Dominion and Fox are duking it out in Delaware Superior Court on Tuesday in a hearing before Judge Eric Davis, as each sides seeks to get the judge to hand them a win without going to trial.
Motions for summary judgment are rarely granted, and Davis suggested on Tuesday that he was unlikely to approve either parties’ motion. If the case moves forward without an approved summary judgement motion or settlement, it will go to trial next month.
Dominion wants Judge Davis to grant it damages of up to $1.6 billion, while Fox is arguing for the case to be thrown out. Fox has claimed that its 2020 election statements are protected under the First Amendment because the network was covering a live controversy.
On Tuesday, Dominion attorney Rodney Smolla accused Fox News of having “essentially made Sidney Powell a celebrity, a household name.”
Powell, a far-right attorney known for making outlandish claims, played a leading role after the 2020 election, spreading allegations that Dominion was the product of a conspiracy that began with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and ended with Biden’s victory, all part of an international communist conspiracy.
Smolla said that Fox did this “to let out the hoax, to release the Kraken.”
Powell referred to her legal filings — none of which succeeded — as “releasing the Kraken.” In court papers, Dominion has revealed texts, emails, and other internal Fox communications showing that network insiders knew Powell and others were spreading nonsense, but gave considerable attention to their claims anyway.
Powell represented among the most extreme 2020 election denialists. Smolla alleged that Fox used “repetition” to “amplify” Powell’s statements, which “gave it the resonance and the gravitas.”
At one point, Judge Davis interrupted Dominion attorney Justin Nelson, asking him about the relationship between Fox’s statements and those of President Trump.
“Are you saying that Fox adopts Trump’s statements just because the president said at a press conference that the election was a hoax?” Davis asked.
Nelson said no, but argued separately that Dominion believed it knew what was motivating Fox to keep running the false claims: cut and dry business concerns.
After Fox made an early call that Biden had won Arizona, conservative viewers purportedly began to ebb away from the network and towards Newsmax and other further right-wing outlets.
Fox, Nelson argued, responded by putting extreme voices like Powell and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell on TV, while knowing that they were spreading false claims.
Nelson accused Fox of “putting Lindell on air for business purposes,”
“They knew Lindell was crazy but they also knew he was their highest advertiser, and they were trying to assuage him,” Nelson added.
Dominion attorney Smolla attributed the decisions to “Fox viewers…abandoning Fox.”
Attorneys for Fox are rebutting Dominion, claiming that their 2020 election statements are merely examples of covering many sides of an evolving controversy, while saying that “free press” principles are put at risk by the lawsuit.
Former Fox News employee Abby Grossberg, who was head of booking for Tucker Carlson, separately filed a lawsuit on Monday evening accusing the network’s attorneys of trying to coerce her to change her testimony before a deposition she was scheduled to give in the lawsuit.
That, Grossberg alleged, was aimed specifically at preventing her from implicating “prominent male on-air personalities and Fox News executives.”
Fox News in a statement called Grossberg’s claims “baseless” and that it would “vigorously defend Fox against all of her claims.”
Update: This post’s headline has been corrected to reflect that Fox faces claims of defamation.