The judge presiding over the upcoming trial in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion suit against Fox News made several outspoken comments about the cable news giant during pre-trial hearings this week, including a snarky remark taking aim at Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo.
Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis sanctioned the network and announced an investigation into Fox’s alleged withholding of evidence and information relevant to the case at pre-trial hearings on Wednesday and Thursday.
The hearing dealt in part with recordings provided by former Fox News producer Abby Grossberg, who is suing Fox News in two lawsuits separate from Dominion’s claims. The recordings show Bartiromo spoke with Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, the latter whom admitted to being unable to prove that Dominion’s software rigged the election.
Dominion’s lawyers charged Fox with failing to present this evidence when they were supposed to. During the hearing on Wednesday, Judge Davis took a shot at Bartiromo as he questioned Fox News lawyer Michael Skokna about recordings that showed the Fox host entertaining the idea of airing information on a defense fund for Donald Trump.
“I mean, I think we also just learned about this and produced it and we believe that the full recordings provide relevant evidence to actual malice and Ms. Bartiromo, what she knew, the questions she was asking, and what she was saying off air versus on air,” Skokna argued before the judge.
The following exchange ensued:
JUDGE DAVIS: She’s clearly neutral.
MR. SKOKNA: Excuse me, Your Honor?
JUDGE DAVIS: She’s clearly neutral. I’m being sarcastic. I just heard the tape where she’s going to put a defense fund thing. She wanted to override their director to put a campaign thing. Clearly not neutral.
MR. SKOKNA: I believe the evidence will show that that didn’t appear on the actual chyron.
JUDGE DAVIS: Thank goodness.
According to Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple, who was in the courtroom for the hearing, the judge’s delivery was deadpan and confused the Fox attorney.
That was not the only time Judge Davis spoke out in colorful terms about Fox’s coverage in the aftermath of the election, which he has described in scathing terms throughout this case. “I could have a lot of fun with this case,” Davis said at one point, during a discussion of Dominion’s opportunity to cross examine Fox witnesses.
Dominion has sought to put Bartiromo on the witness stand as she was one of the most prominent Fox personalities fueling Trump’s unsubstantiated claims about the election. Even after a forced fact-check on the conspiracy theories she gave air to, Bartiromo has continued to promote election denialism.
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