Jurors are set to get their first look Tuesday at a voting machine company’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News in a trial that will test First Amendment protections.
The trial will force Fox News Channel to defend its actions in the weeks after the 2020 presidential election. The case centers on whether Fox defamed Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems because their guests said that the company rigged the election against then-President Donald Trump.
As the case develops, it is expected to become a huge spectacle as top Fox News stars like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and others will be called to the stand.
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One Fox News star isn’t worried, though. Mark Levin laughed off the lawsuit by calling the judge “biased” and “small potatoes.”
Levin took particular issue to a recent interview where the judge sarcastically dismissed another Fox News, star Maria Bartiromo.
The judge is “supposed to be impartial” but clearly isn’t, Levin said. He demanded on his radio show on Thursday, “Judge, why don’t you step aside?”
“I haven’t talked to any of the Fox lawyers or the Fox executives or this one,” Levin sai. “I’m just saying as a lawyer, this is… you’re small potatoes.”
“This is in your courtroom. You’re making a clown show of the thing,” he said. “You’re obviously biased and partisan the way that you’re ruling.”
Fox already has been embarrassed by revelations that some of its executives and on-air personalities did not believe Trump’s fraud claims. It also doesn’t want to see 92-year-old founder Rupert Murdoch testify. Dominion could miss a big payday if a jury rules against it.
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Not everyone wants the case to go away quietly, however, including one former Fox News star.
“PLEASE Dominion — Do not settle with Fox! You’re about to prove something very big,” tweeted Gretchen Carlson, whose accusations against former Fox chief Roger Ailes led to his downfall in 2016.
Fox, meanwhile, paid for a full-page advertisement in The New York Times on Monday headlined “Trusted Now. More Than Ever.”
Besides its implications for Fox, the case is being watched carefully by mainstream media insiders for what it could mean for libel law. Defamation is generally hard to prove since it requires a finding that journalists published information they knew to be false, or with a reckless disregard for the truth.
Some First Amendment lawyers say Dominion’s lawsuit presents a powerful case, given the doubt expressed within Fox about the fraud allegations.
Fox says Dominion can’t prove that the people with such doubts were in position to affect what was said on the air about the company.
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Even before a jury hears the case, Davis has made some rulings in Dominion’s favor, including stating that the allegations of election fraud made against the company were clearly false. That means the issue will not have to be litigated in the trial.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article