Letters to the Editor
February 25, 2023

To the Editor:
Fox News has been sued in federal court by Dominion Voting Systems (DVS) for defamation. The lawsuit alleges the "fair and balanced" network actively lied to its viewers about purported DVS "fraud" in the 2020 presidential election. It reveals that Fox News personalities are play-acting. They tell their audience what it wants to hear though they don’t believe it themselves and gin up conspiracies and false narratives to keep ratings up.
The controlling law on defamation is New York Times v. Sullivan (1964), a unanimous SCOTUS decision that held inaccuracies in reporting are protected by the First Amendment unless the plaintiff can prove “actual malice,” that is, publication with “reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”
Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani publicly promoted unfounded claims that DVS shifted vote counts to steal the election from Trump and that many election results were therefore invalid. Fox relentlessly interviewed Powell and Giuliani and reported “fraud” claims though they knew them to be false.
On January 5, 2021, Rupert Murdoch suggested hosts should “say something like ‘the election is over and Joe Biden won,’” and that would dissipate “the Trump myth that the election [was] stolen.”
Maria Bartiromo let Powell push election fraud claims of DVS complicity in switching votes from Trump to Biden that she and Giuliani got from a source who claimed she learned the information through "time travel."
Steve Bannon spoke to Bartiromo within days after the election, saying, "71 million voters will never accept Biden. This process [election denial] is to destroy his presidency before it even starts, IF it even starts. We either close on Trump’s victory or delegitimize Biden.”
Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham all privately slammed the Kraken-Rudy claims. The fraud claims lost their lustre.
As time went on, when the facts manifested themselves, emails between the hosts and with Fox management indicate panic that ratings had dropped because the hosts weren't pushing false election conspiracy theories with the same vigor as upstart cable news networks such as Newsmax and One America News. Back to the saber rattling.
In essence, the goal of Fox News is not to report actual news, but to deliver gratifying, obliging stories that reinforce their viewers' feelings of self-righteousness and self-esteem. Even if it means lying. For ratings. The Court will determine if that is “actual malice.”
Kelly Scoles,