Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Bret Baier are among the names on the Fox and Dominion witness lists; Judge questions Rupert Murdoch’s claim of toughness as he appears in live evidence – update

UPDATE, 12:39 PM ET: The judge who ruled on Dominion v. led Fox defamation case, the network’s lawyers pushed back on their argument that Rupert Murdoch would not be able to testify live at the upcoming trial.

During a Tuesday hearing, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis cited a letter he received from Fox’s legal team that claimed “under Covid he can’t travel, that he had no knowledge that it could be difficult for him be to come off”.

“Mr Murdoch claimed he was traveling and it would be an inconvenience,” Davis said.

Davis referred to reports of Murdoch’s engagement on St. Patrick’s Day and his talk of traveling “between his various residences between LA, Montana, New York and London.”

“That doesn’t sound like someone who can’t go from New York to Wilmington,” the judge told lawyers. “So let’s get this story straight so I don’t look like an idiot.”

He referred to a letter he received from Fox’s lawyers in which he claimed that “he couldn’t travel under Covid, he doesn’t know that it might be difficult for him to come down”.

Davis said he has the ability to compel officers, directors and attorneys to testify based on why their testimony is needed in a lawsuit. Who will testify directly – and whether they will be forced to do so – is a question as lawyers and judges plan the trial.

Matthew Carter, Fox’s attorney, told the judge there could be a misunderstanding in their letter. “We are not claiming that Mr Murdoch is ill or unable to travel.” He said they indicated that given his seven-hour testimony, there was no reason to force him to testify alive.

In the letter to the judge, Fox’s legal team argued that Murdoch, son of Lachlan Murdoch, Fox Corp. director Viet Dinh, and board member Paul Ryan should not be compelled to testify because “these witnesses are having problems and because of them being unnecessarily burdened with limited knowledge of relevant facts.”

“Mr Murdoch was under COVID-19 lockdown in the UK during the relevant period,” the lawyers wrote, adding that during his statement he “repeatedly stated that he had little knowledge of Dominion, no opinion of Dominion and no understanding of “the potential role of Dominion in the 2020 election.” The lawyers also argued that the others played only a limited role in the case.

EARLIER: Dominion Voting Systems’ upcoming defamation suit against Fox News and Fox Corp., slated for April 17, could well include a parade of the network’s news personalities, with both sides in the case planning to include the likes of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Bret to call Baier.

They are among the figures and executives who appear on bipartisan proposed live witness lists filed Monday in Delaware Supreme Court. Also credited: Maria Bartiromo, Dana Perino and Jeanine Pirro, and former host Lou Dobbs. Also mentioned: Suzanne Scott, CEO of Fox News Media, Jay Wallace, President of Fox News, Joe Dorrego, COO and CFO, Meade Cooper, Executive Vice President, Tucker Carlson tonight Senior Executive Producer Justin Wells and Fox Business Network President Lauren Petterson. Also listed are Dominion CEO John Poulos, CFO Michael McGee and co-founder Hootan Yaghoobzadeh of State Street Capital.

Dominion lists Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and CEO Lachlan Murdoch on its list of live witnesses, but Fox’s website marked them as appearing via video testimony. Dominion also called fired producer Abby Grossberg as a witness, but Fox impeached her. She filed a lawsuit against the network, claiming she was forced to testify by Fox lawyers, and is trying to change that. Fox said she was fired for failing to protect privileged company information and said her lawsuit was “riddled with false allegations.”

Dominion also lists former House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Fox Corp. board member, as a live witness, while Fox has him for video testimony. Both sides also call Bill Gates as a prosecution witness.

The lists will be added to both parties’ proposed pretrial stipulation and order, which is subject to approval by Judge Eric M. Davis. He will hold a preliminary hearing Tuesday afternoon, which is expected to raise a number of questions for the ongoing trial.

Davis told attorneys last week that he faces some limitations when it comes to compelling witnesses to testify, so “don’t ask me to serve a subpoena.” But said there are some exceptions for company directors and directors. He also said that he did not want a witness to appear through a video deposition expert and consequently through live and personal testimony. He raised the prospect of a Zoom testimony.

As a rule, lists of witnesses are eventually reduced by the length of the trial because of time constraints and because of a judge’s decision. Davis estimates a trial period of 25 working days or 137.5 hours. “That is, if everything works perfectly,” he said.

Dominion accuses Fox of amplifying and supporting false allegations that the voting system company rigged the results of the 2020 presidential election. The network claims it only reported on and commented on “undeniably newsworthy allegations” by Donald Trump and his lawyers.

Davis has yet to rule on both parties’ motions for summary judgment.

A Fox News spokesperson said in a statement: “Dominion’s unnecessarily extensive list of living witnesses is yet another attempt to grab headlines and distract from the many flaws in the case. Ultimately, this case is about protecting the media’s absolute First Amendment right to report the news.”

There is more to come.

Source: Deadline

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