Fox News apologizes to judge in defamation case for failing to disclose Rupert Murdoch’s role at the network
Ruppert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corporation
Lionel Bonaventure | AFP | Getty Images
Fox News apologized to the Delaware judge presiding over the Dominion Voting Systems’ lawsuit for failing to properly define Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch’s formal role at the network, according to a letter filed with the court.
“We understand the Court’s concerns, apologize, and are committed to clear and full communication with the Court moving forward,” Fox attorney Blake Rohrbacher wrote in the letter Friday.
Dominion Voting Systems brought its defamation lawsuit against Fox and its TV networks, Fox News and Fox Business, in March 2021, arguing its hosts pushed false claims that Dominion’s voting machines were rigged in the 2020 presidential election that saw President Joe Biden triumph over former President Donald Trump.
Fox’s apology comes on the eve of the trial, which is scheduled to begin Monday. Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis expressed frustration with the network Tuesday for its failure to accurately disclose Murdoch’s leadership role there. Fox lawyers had repeatedly claimed Murdoch did not have an official title at Fox News, only to later reveal that he serves as the Fox News Executive Chair.
“This is a problem,” Davis said, according to a court transcript. “I need to feel comfortable when you represent something to me that is the truth.”
On Wednesday, Davis sanctioned Fox for withholding evidence and reportedly said if depositions or anything else needed to be redone, it would come at a cost to the company.
“This was a misunderstanding,” Fox’s attorney Blake Rohrbacher wrote in the letter. “We should have updated the Court following the April 5 hearing with a complete answer, and we should have taken care before the hearing to ensure that our written submissions reflected all listed corporate titles for the individuals at issue for both Fox entities.”
Once the trial begins, Fox will have to pay to defend itself against Dominion’s claims and, if it loses, pay possible damages to Dominion, upwards of $1.6 billion. No matter the outcome, an appeal is likely.
Fox, which has denied the claims made by Dominion and said it is protected by the First Amendment, has opposed the amount of damages that the voting machine maker is seeking. Davis recently said it would be up to a jury to decide the matter.
— CNBC’s Lillian Rizzo contributed to this report.