Fox-Dominion choose says he can power Murdochs to testify

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of News Corp and Co-Chairman of 21st Century Fox, arrives at the Sun Valley Resort for the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference July 10, 2018 in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

A Delaware judge said Wednesday he would coerce Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son, CEO Lachlan Murdoch, appear live in court for the upcoming trial in the Dominion Voting System’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox and its networks.

Earlier Wednesday, in a letter to the court, Dominion asked Judge Eric Davis, who is presiding over the case, to force both Murdochs to appear live. It also solicited personal statements from Republican former House Speaker and Fox board member Paul Ryan and Fox chief legal and policy officer Viet Dinh.

“Fox and Dominion have made these four parties very relevant,” Davis said during a hearing Wednesday. “It’s not the company raising their hand on the stand, it’s their officers and directors raising their hand on the stand.”

“So if Dominion wants to bring them in live, they have to do a subpoena and I wouldn’t pick it up. I would force her to come,” Davis added Wednesday.

The letter comes days after the judge ruled the lawsuit would go to trial in April.

Davis had dismissed Fox’s arguments but granted several of Dominion’s requests, except for his argument that Fox and his hosts acted maliciously in disseminating false claims about the 2020 presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

The trial is scheduled to begin on April 17. Dominion and Fox have agreed that some of Fox’s top TV talent, including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, as well as former host Lou Dobbs and Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott, will appear in court to defend their to give testimony live.

In previous court filings, Dominion did not include the Murdochs in its live testimony list, although this had previously been discussed in court.

Fox had contacted Murdoch and the other Fox Corp executives. resisted and gave their testimonies live in court. They had also pointed to the elder Murdoch’s age of 92 as a reason why he was unable to appear live in court. The judge dismissed that argument during last week’s hearing.

“Dominion clearly intends to continue spreading misleading stories from their friends in the media to distract from their weak case,” a Fox spokesman said in a statement. “Demanding witnesses who had nothing to do with the offending broadcasts are just the latest example of their political crusade in search of financial fortune.”

On Wednesday, Davis also noted ahead of next week’s pre-trial conference that he did not see Jan. 6, 2021 — the day a violent mob raided the US Capitol in support of then-President Trump — as relevant in this case.

“I know that’s probably going to shock everyone,” Davis said, adding that in the development of this case and the court’s opinion, the focus is on a specific time frame and he is only aware of one testimony, which came after January 6th was made and affects the Dominion.

In the wealth of evidence that has come to light in this case, documents show the network’s internal response to Jan. 6, including Fox executives who shut down Trump’s attempt to go on the air that night. That same evening, Carlson texted his producer, calling Trump “a demonic force. A destroyer. But he won’t destroy us,” referring to Fox’s network and its audience, according to court documents.

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