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Fox News apologizes to judge for ‘misunderstanding’ over Rupert Murdoch’s role that sparked investigation

<i>Mike Blake/Reuters</i><br/>Rupert Murdoch
Mike Blake/Reuters
Rupert Murdoch

By Marshall Cohen, CNN

Fox News formally apologized to the judge in the Dominion defamation case, taking responsibility for the “misunderstanding” regarding Rupert Murdoch’s role at the network that led the judge to launch an investigation into potential legal misconduct by Fox, according to a letter obtained by CNN.

In the letter, which was dated Friday and filed with the court, Fox attorney Blake Rohrbacher said the right-wing network “never intended to omit information” and that its inaccurate representations about Murdoch’s formal role at Fox News were “not meant to mislead the Court or evade the question.”

“We understand the Court’s concerns, apologize, and are committed to clear and full communication with the Court moving forward,” Rohrbacher wrote, later adding that, “we should have provided to the Court a complete and prompt response to the Court’s questions concerning the identities of all of Fox News’ officers. We apologize and never intended to avoid responding to a question from the Court.”

The legal spat revolves around Murdoch’s roles at Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corporation. In past court filings, and when asked directly by the judge, Fox lawyers have repeatedly said he didn’t have an official title at Fox News. But last week, Fox disclosed that he is also an executive officer at Fox News.

Dominion says this distinction may have narrowed what Fox turned over as part of the discovery process in the case — potentially blocking the voting technology company from obtaining more Murdoch-related emails and text messages. The judge was livid over Fox’s misrepresentations and said he would bring in a third-party lawyer to investigate whether Fox lied to the court and withheld evidence from Dominion.

The mea culpa from Fox comes on the eve of trial, with opening statements expected Monday.

At hearings this past week in Wilmington, Delaware, Fox attorneys said they never withheld any material from Dominion. They maintain that Murdoch wasn’t involved in any of the allegedly defamatory broadcasts in 2020, and he testified in his deposition that he never heard of Dominion.

Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis seethed over the matter at a pretrial hearing Tuesday, saying, “my problem is, it’s been represented to me more than once that he’s not an officer of Fox News.” At another hearing the next day, he told Fox’s attorneys, “I need people to tell me the truth, and by the way, omission is a lie.”

Fox denies that it defamed Dominion and says the lawsuit could seriously undermine press freedoms.

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