- Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch’s internal communications may get roped into the Dominion and Smartmatic lawsuits.
- The father-son duo would normally be far removed from day-to-day news coverage decisions.
- While there’s little legal precedent for the move, the request could fall under relevant evidence.
A potential major development in the Dominion and Smartmatic lawsuits against Fox News could come in the form of internal communications from top Fox News executives, even up to News Corp. executive chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son, Lachlan, who holds the same title at the Fox Corporation.
Fox has moved to dismiss both lawsuits, arguing the false statements about election fraud made on-air by network host Maria Bartiromo along with guests Rudy Giuliani and Sydney Powell, who were former President Donald Trump’s top two attorneys, fall under First Amendment protections.
“It demonstrates the availability of accurate information that the defendants chose to ignore,” Erik Connolly, a lawyer for Smartmatic, recently told Reuters. “It wasn’t that hard for them to figure out that what they were saying was inaccurate.”
The legal teams for the voting machine companies would need the judge to rule against Fox’s motions to dismiss in order to move ahead with obtaining the internal communications.
In a November filing, Dominion alleged that the Murdochs “intentionally disregarded the facts in their own newspaper [The New York Post] and did nothing to stop Fox’s dissemination of lies about Dominion.”
Fox News did not return Insider’s request for comment.
On Giuliani and Powell, Smartmatic has argued the pair used Fox News to disseminate the bulk of misinformation that spread regarding the company in the aftermath of the election.
“These defendants are primary sources of much of the false information,” the company said in a media release. “Their unfounded accusations were repeated by other media outlets, journalists, bloggers and influencers the world over.”
While legal experts who spoke to Reuters noted it would be unusual for either of the Murdochs to be involved with day-to-day decision making in news coverage across their outlets, there’s still a chance the internal communications could come into play.
“This strikes me as relevant evidence — something the plaintiffs will likely be entitled to,” Timothy Zick, a William & Mary Law School professor, told Reuters.
For now, the companies will have to wait before getting a look at any involvement the Murdochs may have had when it came to Trump’s election lies making their way on-air.