"I strongly disagree": Fox News host calls out bosses for banning him from covering Dominion lawsuit

"As an employee, I have to abide by it," said Howard Kurtz

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published February 27, 2023 11:01AM (EST)

American Journalist Howard Kurtz (Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
American Journalist Howard Kurtz (Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

Fox News anchor Howard Kurtz said Sunday that the conservative network barred him from covering the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit filed against the company by Dominion Voting Systems.

"Some of you have been asking why I'm not covering the Dominion Voting Machines lawsuit against Fox involving the unproven claims of election fraud in 2020, and it's absolutely a fair question," Kurtz said during his "MediaBuzz" weekly news segment. "I believe I should be covering it. It's a major media story, given my role here at Fox."

"But the company has decided that as part of the organization being sued, I can't talk about it or write about it, at least for now," he added. "I strongly disagree with that decision, but as an employee, I have to abide by it. If that changes, I'll let you know."

Fox finds itself embroiled in the lawsuit with Dominion after repeatedly airing false statements that the voting company was part of an extensive conspiracy to elect President Joe Biden. Trump lawyer Sidney Powell even directly alleged that Dominion voting machines "flipped" votes from Trump to Biden, an accusation which Fox Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch referred to as "terrible stuff damaging everybody," according to a recent Dominion filing.

Earlier this month, a revealing court filing by Dominion cited a slew of internal emails and texts from top Fox News executives and hosts privately condemning baseless false election claims the network aired. They also expressed concern for the "stock price" of the network and the potential to anger former President Donald Trump if the fraudulent allegations were called into question. 

Dominion said in the filing that the damning messages are evidence of Fox executives and employees' knowledge of the untenable election claims they were airing. "Not a single Fox witness testified that they believe any of the allegations about Dominion are true," Dominion stated in the filing. "Indeed, Fox witness after Fox witness declined to assert the allegations' truth or actually stated they do not believe them, and Fox witnesses repeatedly testified that they have not seen credible evidence to support them."

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A Fox spokesperson said in a statement that Dominion "mischaracterized the record, cherry-picked quotes stripped of key context, and spilled considerable ink on facts that are irrelevant under black-letter principles of defamation law."

Legal experts have observed that the disclosures will make it difficult for Fox to defend against the lawsuit on First Amendment grounds.

First Amendment and Constitutional Lawyer Floyd Abrams told CNN that Fox has "a tough case."

"One of Fox's major problems here is that they had people on the air again and again and again, who were saying that these voting machines were phony, that they were built for fraud, that they were purposely created for fraud," he said. "And at the same time, and right after those things are being said, more senior people at Fox are saying, "The person that's saying that is a liar.'

"So it makes it really difficult — maybe not impossible — but really difficult for Fox to defend on the grounds that, 'We're just journalists interviewing people,'" Abrams added. "It makes it an unusual case, too. Evidence of that sort rarely comes up in a libel case."

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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