By Oliver Darcy and Marshall Cohen | CNN
Dominion Voting Systems said in a court filing Monday that it wants to put some of Fox News‘ top executives and most well-known hosts on the witness stand when its $1.6 billion defamation case against the right-wing network goes to trial.
Among the network personnel that the voting technology company wants to call witnesses are Fox News chief executive Suzanne Scott; Fox News President Jay Wallace; hosts Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Maria Bartiromo, Laura Ingraham, and Bret Baier; and former executive Bill Sammon and politics editor Chris Stirewalt.
Dominion also said it wishes to call to the stand Abby Grossberg, the Fox News producer who filed lawsuits against the network last week that alleged network lawyers coerced her into providing misleading testimony.
Dominion’s potential witness list, which is not final and will surely face legal challenges from Fox’s lawyers, is part of the routine process of haggling over witnesses while both sides prepare for trial.
Dominion previously asked Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis to force Fox Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch and chief executive Lachlan Murdoch to testify at trial, as well as board member Paul Ryan, the former House speaker. Davis has yet to make a decision on which witnesses he might compel to take the stand.
Fox News, however, did suggest it wants to put Scott, Wallace, Hannity, Carlson, Bartiromo, and Baier on the stand as witnesses.
Their strategy in possibly calling these witnesses isn’t publicly known. But in past court filings, Fox News has highlighted the fact that Baier said on-air shortly after the 2020 election that there weren’t indications of widespread fraud.
Both sides are also hoping to put on testimony from their handpicked experts who specialize in election statistics, the security of voting machines, journalism ethics, the impact of disinformation in public discourse, and more.
Fox News said it has journalism experts who will testify that its 2020 election coverage “did not depart from professional standards,” and that its election security experts can testify that “Dominion’s systems are riddled with security problems and vulnerabilities,” according to court filings.
Why Dominion wants hosts and executives to testify Dominion said in court filings that its experts will describe how it would’ve been literally “impossible” for its software to flip millions of votes from Trump to Biden, which is precisely what many Fox hosts and guests suggested it did in 2020.
“[Rupert Murdoch] holds a special role at Fox Corporation, that he may be able to be compelled to be here,” Davis said at a hearing earlier this week, though he stressed that he hasn’t made decisions on witnesses yet.
Lawyers for Fox News urged Davis to reject these requests, arguing that it would put an “undue burden” on the Murdochs, and that they don’t have much pertinent information to testify about anyway.
The Murdochs, top Fox News executives and many of its TV hosts have already sat for lengthy depositions– which revealed most of them didn’t believe the election-rigging claims that were being peddled on-air. Dominion is now seeking in-person testimony from many of these figures.
Both Fox News and Dominion asked Davis in court this week to declare them the outright winner without a trial.
Davis has yet to rule on the matter, but most legal experts believe the case will ultimately go to a jury trial if the two sides do not reach a settlement before mid-April when a trial is scheduled to start.
Dominion has alleged in its lawsuit against Fox Corporation and Fox News that during the 2020 election the right-wing network “recklessly disregarded the truth” and pushed various pro-Trump conspiracy theories about the election technology company because “the lies were good for Fox’s business.”
Fox News has maintained that it is “proud” of its 2020 coverage and has said Dominion’s lawsuit could weaken the First Amendment. Fox News has argued that it can’t be held liable for airing inherently newsworthy allegations from public figures that Dominion rigged the 2020 election, even if those claims were false. Fox News has also argued that Dominion’s request for $1.6 billion in damages is a wildly inflated figure, citing the company’s previous valuations.
“Dominion’s needlessly expansive live witness list is yet another attempt to generate headlines and distract from the many shortcomings of its case,” a Fox spokesperson said.
Fox Corporation, the right-wing channel’s parent company, was also named in the lawsuit. Fox Corporation has argued that Dominion overstated its role in Fox News’ editorial coverage of the 2020 election and asked to be dropped from the lawsuit — but the judge let the case move forward.