Illustration of a gavel with the center being a staticky TV

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Dominion Voting Methods tomorrow will sq. off in courtroom in opposition to Fox Information, greater than two years after submitting a $1.6 billion defamation swimsuit accusing the community of knowingly airing disinformation about election fraud within the 2020 presidential contest.

Why it issues: The trial might set an necessary First Modification precedent and form political protection by one among America’s strongest media retailers.

The massive image: Efficiently suing for defamation within the U.S. is deliberately troublesome — however authorized consultants imagine Dominion has an particularly sturdy case.

  • Dominion not solely has to show that Fox Information made false statements, which it already has finished, but in addition should show malice and that these false statements prompted hurt.
  • Unintentional errors, for instance, would not meet the authorized threshold.

If Dominion wins: It might persuade Fox Information to develop into extra cautious forward of 2024 elections, notably on the subject of poll fraud allegations.

  • There additionally might be shakeups each behind and in entrance of the cameras at Fox Information, as shareholders are unlikely to sit down by quietly if a jury awards Dominion what it seeks or extra.
  • A Dominion victory additionally might embolden others to sue media organizations after they really feel wronged, though authorized consultants inform Axios the chance is distant.
  • “I do assume it’s an uphill battle [for Fox],” College of Tennessee journalism professor Stuart Brotman stated. “However you might have some very highly effective, well-known media personalities testifying, and jurors will be captivated.”

If Fox wins: Not solely would it not reaffirm America’s very excessive bar for media defamation, but in addition would supply Fox Information with a authorized roadmap for airing future falsehoods.

  • The community has parted methods with one of many on-air hosts who allegedly defamed Dominion, Lou Dobbs, however continues to worker others, together with Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro.

Both means: The trial might affect how Fox Information defends itself in opposition to different defamation costs, most notably a $2.7 billion case introduced by election expertise firm Smartmatic.

What they’re saying: “In my view, [a Fox victory] would open our society as much as a return to what was once known as the yellow journalism of the late nineteenth century, just like the Hearst newspapers that led to wars,” says Catherine Ross, a George Washington College constitutional legislation professor who focuses on the First Modification.

Look forward: Opening arguments are anticipated to start at 9am ET on Monday, with a stay audio stream accessible to these outdoors the courtroom.