Fox News is facing a massive defamation lawsuit over how it covered false claims surrounding the 2023 presidential elections, with voting machine maker Dominion Voting Systems arguing that the network repeatedly aired allegations that the company helped rig the general election against Trump despite many at the news organization privately believing the claims were false.
Fox is relying on a nearly 60-year-old Supreme Court ruling that makes it difficult to successfully sue media organizations for libel. In a 1964 decision in a case involving The New York Times, the U.S. Supreme Court greatly limited the ability of public officials to sue for defamation. It ruled that news outlets are protected against a libel judgment unless it can be proven that they published with “actual malice” — knowing that something was false or acting with a “reckless disregard” to whether it was true or not.
Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have advocated for the court to revisit the standard, which is considered the foundational case in American defamation law. This article discusses how Fox News is facing an unlikely collision course with two leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination over the rights of journalists, and how the outcome could have broad implications for media organizations because of how they and the courts have come to rely on the libel law Fox is using as a shield.