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."
about the Dominion lawsuit