Fox News apologizes to judge overseeing Dominion case: 'This was a misunderstanding'

Fox News said it was committed to full communication with the court.

April 15, 2023, 10:33 PM

Fox News has formally apologized to the judge overseeing Dominion's $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit after a late-stage admission revealing Rupert Murdoch's role as an officer at Fox News was addressed in court this week.

In a letter submitted to the court on Friday, Fox attorney Blake Rohrbacher described the situation as a "misunderstanding" and said they "understand the Court's concerns, apologize, and are committed to clear and full communication with the Court moving forward."

PHOTO: A view of the Fox logo outside the News Corp Building on 5th Ave., March 21, 2023, in New York.
A view of the Fox logo outside the News Corp Building on 5th Ave., March 21, 2023, in New York.
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

The letter comes after Fox was sanctioned this week after Judge Eric Davis said they made misrepresentations to the court and delayed turning over evidence.

Specifically, Dominion's attorneys said that the network had concealed Murdoch's official role as an officer at Fox News until days before trial-- a late stage admission they said prevented them from obtaining more evidence regarding him. Davis had said Fox had been "evasive," noting he had personally asked them about it during an earlier hearing, and asked 'What do I do with attorneys that aren't straightforward with me?"

Judge Davis said he would "most likely" appoint a special master to investigate whether representations by Fox made to the court as part of the case were "untrue or negligent." He also ordered Fox attorneys to preserve all communications related to the issue.

"I'm very uncomfortable right now," Davis said. "I'm going to let you know -- I'm very uncomfortable."

Dominion said in court this week that Fox News' lack of disclosure regarding Murdoch's position with Fox News had hindered, among other things, their ability to obtain evidence regarding him.

"We have been litigating based on this false premise that Rupert Murdoch wasn't an officer of Fox News," Dominion's attorney, Justin Nelson, told the judge. Nelson also pointed out that Murdoch himself said during his deposition that he was not an officer of Fox News.

The judge appeared taken aback by the revelation, which first arose on Tuesday, saying Fox attorneys had been "evasive."

"I need people to tell me the truth," Davis said on Wednesday. "And by the way, omission is a lie."

"He's an officer. He's responsible. He has duties," Davis said earlier of Murdoch. "You don't escape responsibilities by saying he doesn't do anything."

In the letter, Rohrbacher said Fox "never intended to omit information from earlier submissions to the Court or to fail to fully respond to the Court's questions."

"This was a misunderstanding," the letter continued.

In its letter, however, Fox pushed back on the idea that the omission hurt Dominion.

"With regards to Dominion's contention that it has been prejudiced, Fox disagrees and respectfully requests an opportunity to address and respond to that contention after Dominion seeks written relief from the Court," the letter said.

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