Fox News is citing newly found emails from Maria Bartiromo’s personal account that they intend to use in their defense of Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit.
In one email exchange, Tony Fratto, who in November, 2020 was acting as a spokesman for Dominion, wrote to Bartiromo after watching an interview with Sidney Powell, the attorney and Fox News guest who had been one of the most visible figures pushing the conspiracy theory that the voting systems company rigged the election.
“I just watched the whole interview with Sidney Powell. It’s sad,” Fratto wrote to Bartiromo on Nov. 21.
Bartiromo responded, “Tony. She is pushing on this. Do you want to have dominion ceo on?”
Fratto did not respond to the offer, but wrote, “She is pushing a lot of things and trime [sic] after time they’re proving to be untrue. WSJ editorial board has it right — again today on Georgia handcount.”
He added, “She is trying to smear a company with completely unsubstantiated allegations, and they’re unsubstantiated because they’re untrue. The only relevant evidence is that the machines worked, again, everywhere they’re being used. This woman is harassing employees and they’re getting death threats. That’s why they’re protecting they’re [sic] LinkedIn accounts. This is madness.”
In its defamation lawsuit, Dominion contends that Fox News personalities and guests amplified false claims that the company rigged the results of the 2020 presidential election. One of Fox News’ defenses was that it was covering newsworthy allegations made by President Donald Trump and his team.
In a letter to Judge Eric Davis, Fox News’ attorney Blake Rohrbacher wrote that the Bartiromo emails “are relevant to Fox’s defense that Ms. Bartiromo did not act with actual malice.” The network has argued in previous briefs that Bartiromo “expressed uncertainty even to this day about what exactly happened in this election,” and plans to cite her offer to Fratto for the CEO to come on the show to bolster their argument that offers were made to Dominion to tell “its side of the story.”
A spokesperson for Dominion did not immediately comment. But in its briefs, Dominion has argued that other Fox News hosts and executives expressed disbelief at the election fraud claims, and pointed to Rupert Murdoch’s deposition in which he said that some personalities “endorsed” them. He himself called Donald Trump’s claims “bulls— and damaging, according to Dominion’s filing.
At a procedural hearing on Tuesday, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis noted Fox News’ latest filing and warned attorneys about continuing to produce discovery documents “as we roll into this.”
In his letter, Rohrbacher wrote that the emails were discovered only recently due to a technical error in a document database that did not detect the email exchange from Bartiromo’s account.
Both sides are seeking summary judgment in the case, with in-person arguments before Davis on March 21.
A trial is scheduled to start on April 17, with jury selection four days earlier. The trial is expected to last six weeks.
In the hearing, Davis gave a glimpse of jury selection, with him conducting voir dire. “I don’t care who they voted for. That is not an issue in this case. The issue is whether Fox News, Fox Corp. defamed Dominion and caused Dominion damages.” He said “the question is [if] they made a pre-determination as to liability in this case.”
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