“What do I do with attorneys that aren’t straightforward with me?”
With a trial looming next week in Dominion Voting Systems billion-dollar defamation claim against Fox News, the judge in the case has slapped the right-wing cable news net with sanctions and suggested that he would order an investigation into whether the network misled him.
Delaware Judge Eric Davis’ ruling came after claims from Dominion and the judge himself that Fox had withheld evidence in the case. The sanction allows Dominion to perform new depositions before the trial, with Fox paying for the additional legal work.
The judge told attorneys that “Fox will do everything they can to make the person available, and it will be at a cost to Fox,” the New York Times reported.
Dominion Voting Systems is suing Fox for repeatedly broadcasting false claims about it conspiring to steal the 2020 election from Donald Trump. The judge has already ruled that the claims were false. The trial will determine whether Fox acted with actual malice and what damages should be.
Davis was first angered at a Tuesday hearing after learning that Fox Corporation Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch is also an officer at Fox News. The two legal entities are named as separate defendants in the suit.
Davis suggested that he might have ruled differently on narrowing the case had he known about Murdoch’s position, telling attorneys on Wednesday that “I need people to tell me the truth. And by the way, omission is a lie.”
Fox attorney Dan K. Webb reportedly denied that the network had intentionally misled the court, saying neither he nor Murdoch himself realized that Murdoch also held the executive chair role at Fox News.
“On a day-to-day basis, Mr. Rupert Murdoch had nothing to do with making decisions with what goes on the air on Fox News,” he said.
A separate issue emerged Wednesday over evidence first revealed in a lawsuit filed last month by Abby Grossberg, a former booker at Fox News. Grossberg alleged that she was coerced into giving positive testimony about Fox in the Dominion lawsuit.
At Wednesday’s hearing, a Dominion attorney reportedly played recordings that Grossberg revealed in her lawsuit. Dominion said that Fox only turned over the recordings to Dominion in recent days after the Grossberg lawsuit was filed.
The judge in the Dominion case said that he would likely appoint a special master to review how Fox had complied with its discovery obligations in the case.