Fox News lawyers justified "outlandish" claims its hosts made about Dominion Voting Systems in a new filing last week in a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit.
Attorneys for the conservative network filed sealed motions asking the court to dismiss the case before it goes to trial in April and offering "omitted context" -- which included long-debunked claims -- for remarks by hosts Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and their guests, including Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, reported NPR.
"There is not a single statement for which Dominion can prove every element of its claim for defamation," the network's lawyers said.
Fox lawyers brought up since-disproven claims that the use of Sharpie markers in Maricopa County, Arizona, had invalidated Trump votes and allegations of voter fraud in Detroit, and they filed a sworn deposition from an anonymous witness who claims to be a former member of the Venezuelan presidential security team and accused Dominion of committing election fraud in the U.S.
All of those claims have been disproven -- in some cases by Fox News reporters at the time -- but the network's attorneys aren't defending them as correct, and instead are arguing that the broadcasters were simply commenting on "newsworthy subjects."
"They put themselves in a real pickle when they start to provide the surrounding context," said Thomas Wienner, a retired corporate litigator based in Michigan. "Sometimes that context is helpful to them. But sometimes ... it makes it worse. It doesn't make it better."
"The overall impression you get, when you read the omitted text, is that these people were night after night, day after day, promoting theories that were ridiculous and that had been rejected by the courts," Wienner added, "and there really was no support for them other than a couple of crackpots."
The network's attorneys have consistently argued that hosts were simply relaying newsworthy claims made by the former president and his allies, and they have characterized some of their statements as hyperbole or opinions. But experts say that only gets them so far.
"If anything, because they were so outlandish, they immediately attracted widespread attention and were debunked," said Eddie Perez, a board member at the nonprofit OSET Institute. "They instantly didn't stand up to the light of day."