Key points of the defamation battle embroiling Rupert Murdoch's Fox News

ITV News reports on the case that could cost Rupert Murdoch nearly $2 billion, ITV News correspondent Robert Moore reports

Fox News is being sued by a voting technology firm, which has accused the TV network of damaging its reputation by repeatedly airing false claims of voter fraud during the 2020 US presidential election.

Dominion Voting Systems is seeking $1.6 billion (£1.3 billion) in damages against Fox News, the crown jewel in media mogul Rupert Murdoch's global empire.

The company is claiming executives and hosts allowed allies of former US President Donald Trump to wrongly claim the machines and the software the company used were responsible for the former president's election loss.

The defamation case, which is expected to continue into May, threatens to lift the curtain on one of the world's largest news organisations.

ITV News lays out the key points about the much anticipated case.

Fox hosts and executives doubted voter fraud claims

Court filings submitted by Dominion demonstrated that off camera, high-profile figures within Fox expressed doubts about the theories being claimed by Trump allies.

Private exchanges between Fox Corporation Chairman Murdoch and Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham showed they did not agree with the views expressed by some guests on Fox News.

Carlson said via a text on November 16, 2020, to a Fox News producer that Sidney Powell - a supporter of Mr Trump and former federal prosecutor - "is lying" about having evidence showing election fraud.

Ingraham also texted Carlson branding Powell "a complete nut", adding: "No one will work with her."

Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson made false claims about election fraud on air in 2020. Credit: AP

Fox accused of defamatory broadcasts and tweets

Dominion's lawsuit makes reference to 20 statements - between November 8, 2020, and January 26, 2021 - where it claims that Fox knowingly promoted lies that it alleges destroyed its reputation.

Seventeen of the statements in dispute were made in broadcast interviews and three centre on tweets broadcast as part of Fox News programmes.

Why is this case so significant? ITV News explains

Fox has claimed that the case is damaging to press freedom

Fox has claimed that the case centres on the United States media's First Amendment protections, which enshrines freedom of speech for the press.

The network's defence is that it had the First Amendment right to try to cover highly newsworthy developments - a sitting president's claim that an election was rigged.

It also claims that Dominion's case "mischaracterises the facts by cherry-picking soundbites, omitting key context, and mischaracterising the record."

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Attorneys for Fox have argued that Dominion has advanced “novel defamation theories” and is seeking a “staggering” damage figure aimed at generating headlines, chilling protected speech and enriching Dominion’s private equity owner, Staple Street Capital Partners.

"Dominion brought this lawsuit to punish FNN for reporting on one of the biggest stories of the day - allegations by the sitting President of the United States and his surrogates that the 2020 election was affected by fraud," said a counterclaim from Fox.

Fox attorneys have also warned that threatening the company with a $1.6 billion judgement will cause other media outlets to think twice in future about what they report.

Dominion has been accused of doubting its own product

Attorneys representing Fox have pointed to an email from October 30, 2020 - days before the 2020 election - in which Dominion's director of product strategy and security complained that the company's products were "just riddled with bugs".

In its counterclaim, Fox's attorneys also wrote that when voting-technology companies denied the allegations being made by Trump and his surrogates, Fox News aired those denials, while some of the network's hosts offered protected opinion commentary about the former US president's allegations.

The case was expected to begin on Monday, but was delayed by the Delaware judge overseeing trial without explanation.

The decision fuelled speculation that the two sides might settle before the eagerly watched case can go before a jury.

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