"Shocking" Fox filing is "almost an admission" of guilt for Jan. 6 Capitol riot: Morning Joe

"Any reference to the Capitol riot will only unfairly prejudice the jury against Fox," the company's lawyers said

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published April 7, 2023 11:12AM (EDT)

Rupert Murdoch (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Rupert Murdoch (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Fox lawyers asked a judge to bar references to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot from its upcoming trial in Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit, according to newly unsealed filings obtained by CNN.

"Dominion's defamation claim has nothing to do with the Capitol riot," Fox lawyers argued in the filing. "And any reference to the Capitol riot will only unfairly prejudice the jury against Fox, inflame passions, prevent a fair trial, and taint any resulting verdict."

The attorneys acknowledged that the threats against Dominion employees were "horrific and absolutely inexcusable" but argue that "allowing Dominion to discuss specific threats and their effect on employees is virtually guaranteed to arouse the jury's sympathy and provoke a desire to punish Fox for the actions of unrelated third parties."

During a Friday segment of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," host Joe Scarborough called the filing "shocking."

"I mean this is almost an admission that they believe reasonable jury members would blame them for January 6. It's incredible, as if MSNBC said to a judge, 'you can't mention 9/11' or if CNN said 'you can't mention Pearl Harbor.' ... This is so crazy!" he said.

"Well, it's almost as if the lawyers representing Fox News in this case know that if the obvious line is drawn between the lies that were told on their network and elsewhere about the 2020 election being stolen, in this case, specifically about Dominion's voting machines being used, connected to satellites that change the votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden or whatever the conspiracy theory is," co-host Willie Geist replied. "I've lost track that if a jury drew that line, that it would be quite obvious that they participated in that. We'll see if a judge allows that to be excluded from the case. But it would seem like what's actually at the heart of this case in terms of Dominion."

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Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis, who is overseeing the lawsuit, sided with Fox during a hearing last month.

"I don't see January 6th as relevant in this case," he said.

"I know that probably shocks everyone, but in developing this case and developing the opinion and developing the decisions, this court is very focused on a specific time, and I am aware of only one statement that was made subsequent to January 6th, and I don't think it related to January 6th," he added.

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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Clip Dominion Voting Systems Fox News Joe Scarborough Politics Willie Geist