Professor Paul Wragg quoted in BBC News on the lawsuit between Dominion Voting and Fox News
Dominion Voting Systems was suing the TV network for $1.6bn, claiming its reputation was hurt after Fox knowingly spread lies about its voting machines after the 2020 US election.
Voting machine firm Dominion had alleged that Fox News defamed them in the wake of the US 2020 election, focusing on a series of segments in which Fox hosts allowed lawyers affiliated with former President Donald Trump to falsely claim that the company had rigged the election against him.
The School of Law’s Professor Paul Wragg, an expert on Media Law, told the BBC “this case is “monumental” for defamation law in the US, and a “watershed moment” of a scale not seen in decades.
“The law is deliberately designed to make sure that truth and democratic participation are valued even higher than the harms that might be done to an individual through a defamatory statement, a statement that is false,”.
Defamation law is premised on the idea of enabling public interest information to be disseminated. There's no public interest in disseminating a lie.
Ahead of the trial, the judge ruled that the claims made against Dominion have already been proven false. Fox News argued that the case, dubbed "the libel law equivalent of the Super Bowl" by the New York Times, is ultimately about “the First Amendment protections of the media’s absolute right to cover the news“.
Disappointingly, for media lawyers, the case has subsequently settled, which is no surprise: the evidence said to have attained by Dominion was so powerful that Fox News stood no chance on the law. The question remains, though, whether lessons have been learnt. US defamation law is exceedingly generous but even if it has it limits and, if the evidence Dominion acquired is accurate, then Fox News stood no chance of defending it.