NPR and New York Times ask judge to unseal documents in Fox defamation case : NPR

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NPR and The New York Times have asked a Delaware judge to consider unsealing hundreds of documents in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox News.

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

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TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

NPR and The New York Times have asked a Delaware judge to consider unsealing hundreds of documents in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox News.

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

Lawyers for NPR News and The New York Times have filed a legal brief asking a judge to unseal hundreds of pages of documents from a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit filed by an election technology company against Fox News..

“This case is undoubtedly a consequential defamation case that tests the scope of the First Amendment,” says the challenge brought by the news organizations. “It has been the subject of widespread public interest and media coverage and undoubtedly involves a matter of deep public interest: namely, how a broadcast network vetted and presented to the public the allegations that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen and that the plaintiff was at fault.”

Dominion Voting Systems sued Fox and its parent company over claims made by Fox hosts and guests after the November 2020 presidential elections that the company had helped throw the election to Joe Biden by fraudulent way. Those claims have been denied – often in real time, and sometimes by Fox’s own reporters. Dominion alleges that much potential business has been disrupted and that its employees have faced death threats.

Fox argues that it was vigorously reporting newsworthy allegations from inherently newsworthy people – then-President Donald Trump and his campaign lawyers and surrogates. Fox and her lawyers claim that the case is an affront to the principles of the First Amendment and that the lawsuit is intended to chill freedom of speech. NPR has asked both sides for comment and will update this story as they respond.

The legal teams for Dominion and Fox filed rival motions before Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis earlier this month: in Dominion’s case to find that Fox defamed the company before the -April process, in Fox to deny all or most of the claims. .

Those motions contained hundreds of pages of documents cataloging the findings from the so-called “discovery” process. They will take hours of testimony from dozens of witnesses, including media mogul Rupert Murdoch as well as expansive searches of texts, emails, internal working messages and other communications and records from figures on both sides.

Previous revelations have offered narrow windows into the operations inside Fox after the election: a producer asks colleagues to keep host Jeanine Pirro from spouting baseless conspiracy theories on air; Primetime star Sean Hannity claims under oath he did not believe the claims of fraud “for one second” despite amplifying such allegations on air; Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott pleads “not to give an inch to the crazies.” The motions sought by the two news organizations provide much more information.

In the joint filing, NPR and the New York Times note that they do not know the content of the materials and therefore do not know if there are cases in which public disclosure could harm either side. So they ask Judge Davis “to ensure that the parties meet their high burden to justify sealing information that goes to the heart of very public and significant events.”

The documents will help the public determine “whether the Defendants published false statements with actual malice and whether the lawsuit was filed to chill free speech,” reads the filing by attorney Joseph C. Barsalona II, for -Times and NPR. “Therefore, the interest in accessing the Challenged Documents is vital.”

Disclosure: This story was written by NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik and edited by Senior Business Editor Uri Berliner. Karl Baker contributed to this article. Per NPR’s protocol for reporting on matters involving the network, no corporate officer or senior news executive read this story before it was posted.

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