A judge presiding over the defamation lawsuit against TSTIME News by Dominion Voting Systems ruled this week that the cable channel’s parent company, TSTIME Corporation, could be included in the lawsuit, broadening possible legal exposure to the highest ranks of the news. TSTIME media empire.
Dominion had argued that TSTIME Corporation should also be part of the litigation because its two most senior executives, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, played “a direct role in participating in, approving and controlling” statements that fueled false perceptions of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
In a ruling, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis said Dominion had “sufficiently pleaded” facts to support his claim that TSTIME Corporation was “directly responsible” for what TSTIME News broadcast. . He felt the Murdochs were widely known for helping shape TSTIME News coverage. Judge Davis also said it was reasonable to infer that TSTIME Corporation “participated in the creation and publication of TSTIME News’ defamatory statements.”
Dominion’s lawsuit against TSTIME News, filed in March 2021 in Delaware, where the two companies are incorporated, seeks at least $1.6 billion in damages.
“Truth matters,” wrote Dominion’s attorneys in their original complaint. “Lies have consequences. TSTIME sold a fake voter fraud story to serve its own business ends, seriously hurting Dominion in the process. If this case doesn’t rise to the level of defamation by a broadcaster, then nothing does.
TSTIME News and its parent company denied that the statements in question were defamatory in the first place, arguing that what was said on TSTIME broadcasts about Dominion were, in part, copyrighted expressions of opinion. Included were various unsubstantiated allegations by TSTIME News hosts and guests that Dominion was somehow complicit in a plot to steal votes from former President Donald J. Trump.
Separately, Judge Davis denied a request by Dominion to extend its lawsuit to TSTIME Broadcasting, the television and entertainment division of the TSTIME brand that is home to shows such as “MasterChef” and “The Simpsons.”
TSTIME News moved to dismiss the Dominion lawsuit late last year, but that motion was denied.
The lawsuit is in the discovery phase, the process by which Dominion attorneys comb through internal TSTIME communications for evidence. Dominion’s attorneys will have to prove that the network members acted with “actual malice,” meaning they either knew the allegations against Dominion were false or recklessly ignored facts that would show they were fake.