Dominion lawsuit gets curiouser and curiouser!


Judge Davis rules: In this morning's New York Times, Jeremy Peters reports the latest rulings by Judge Eric Davis in the high-profile defamation lawsuit being brought against Fox News.

Some of the rulings seems a bit curious, but so does the reporting by Peters. Headline included, the report starts off like this:

Judge Limits Fox’s Options for Defense in Dominion Trial

A judge ruled on Tuesday that Fox News could not argue that it broadcast false information about Dominion Voting Systems on the basis that the allegations were newsworthy, limiting a key line of defense for the network as it faces the beginning of a potentially costly defamation trial next week.

The judge, Eric M. Davis of Delaware Superior Court, also ruled that Dominion could not refer to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol except in very narrow circumstances, saying he did not want jurors to be prejudiced by events that weren’t relevant to the central question in the case: Did Fox air wild claims about Dominion’s purported involvement in a conspiracy to steal the 2020 presidential election from Donald J. Trump knowing that they were lies?

Already, we're somewhat puzzled—in part, by Peters' reporting. This is why we say that:

In that second paragraph, Peters seems to say that this is "the central question" in Dominion's lawsuit:

Did Fox air wild claims about Dominion’s purported involvement in a conspiracy to steal the 2020 presidential election from Donald J. Trump knowing that they were lies?

There we go again, right off the rails, with our favorite word, "lies!"

By general reckoning, an inaccurate statement is only a "lie" if the person making the statement knows that the statement is false. That said:

In several of the incidents under review, the "wild claims" in question were voiced by Sidney Powell, an apparent crackpot. 

Are we sure that Powell knew or believed that her crazy claims were false? We know of no obvious reason to assume that she did. But if she believed that her statements were true, then her statements weren't "lies."

We have no idea why Peters (or his editor) framed his presentation that way. His presentation would have made cleaner, clearer sense if he had simply said this:

Did Fox air wild claims about Dominion’s purported involvement in a conspiracy to steal the 2020 presidential election from Donald J. Trump knowing that they were false?

Presumably, if Fox knew that Powell's claims were false, they shouldn't have put her on the air to make the claims. Given the norms of conventional English, a lot of confusion enters the picture when we fall back on the use of our favorite word—"lies."

We offer that as a critique of Peters or his editor.  Moving right along, we'll admit to being somewhat puzzled by the judge's ruling Peters describes right at the start of his report:

A judge ruled on Tuesday that Fox News could not argue that it broadcast false information about Dominion Voting Systems on the basis that the allegations were newsworthy.

At least as it's described in that passage, that ruling sounds a bit shaky. 

Does that ruling mean that a news channel can never broadcast a false allegation on the basis that it's newsworthy? Essentially, that would mean that a news channel could never broadcast a speech by Donald J. Trump at all, since that will surely entail the broadcast of statements or claims which are false.

(The same problem arises with other pols. Among major pols, Trump is merely the one who is most likely to make false statements.)

Think about what happened in the aftermath of the 2020 election! Surely, it was "newsworthy" to report the fact that Trump was claiming, often crazily, that the election had been stolen in various crazy ways.

If news orgs aren't allowed to report the fact that a sitting president is making such claims, that means that we can't have a public discourse at all. Surely, news orgs should be held to a different standard, a standard something like this:

Ideally, news orgs should be expected to offer fact-checks of apparent false statements made by major pols. In every case, news orgs shouldn't have their own personnel making claims they know to be false. Also, news orgs shouldn't put apparent crackpots like Powell on the air to make "wild claims" which are known to be false.

Peters discusses that ruling again a bit later in his report. At least as described in Peters' report, the judge's rulings seem to be getting perhaps a wee bit curiouser and curiouser. 

It seems fairly obvious that major parties at Fox News misbehaved in serious ways in this matter. Could confusion within a jury about a welter of rulings possibly give Fox News a way to make an escape?

Your key semantic takeaway: A whole lot of false statements are lies. A whole lot of false statements are not!


  1. May we suggest, dear Bob, that everything you read in the New York Times is false, lies, and meaningless drivel?

    ...but since it's the establishment-approved lies and meaningless drivel, it's all perfectly legitimate.

    ...and should Fox News, the least worst news network, lose, tsk, well: vae victis, as they say... So be it...

    1. Of course it's drivel. The NY Times is a Right-wing rat-fucking operation , in cahoots with your bosse, the Establishment Elites, both fighting tooth and nail for more corporate tax breaks.
      No worries, the economically anxious Republican voters, who aren't at all just a shitpile of ignorant bigots (hat tip corporate-owned Right-wing media, such as the NY Times), will punch down on trans kids.

  2. The issue isn't only whether the statements that were aired were false or lies, but whether the broadcaster knew the statements were false.

    When you report that someone else is making false statements, there is a meta-statement about the content that labels it as false or deceptive. If a false statement is knowingly presented without that meta information about its truth value, then the broadcaster is knowingly presenting false information and that means the broadcaster is lying and deceiving the public, which assumes that all information is true to the best of the ability of the reporter.

    This is not a semantic problem of the judge or Peters but of the English language which allows two different meanings for the word lie, one that is narrow (which Somerby prefers) and another that is looser/broader and refers not to the intentions of the speaker but to the truth of the statement. In that latter sense, there is only the concept of misinformation, not intent (e.g., I later discovered I had been living a lie.).

    Somerby wants there to be only one meaning used in speech -- he prescribes that the speaker's intent must be part of the definition. But language doesn't work that way. It is flexible and changing that allows a broader meaning in different contexts. One can throw a tantrum about the impreciseness of language, but one cannot require that everyone use words the same way.

    In this case, when the judge says he didn't want the defense to go off on tangents, he wasn't focused on the meaning of the word "lie" but on limiting the defense to circumstances relevant to the defamation case. The judge didn't want the defense to drag in 1/6, and in parsing this sentence, it is equally wrong for Somerby to bring in irrelevancies such as the meaning of the word "lie" in a sentence that is not focused on semantics.

    1. Bob is worse than that. He takes the book burners at their word, they are "concerned parents", and not a political group punching down on on the LGBTQ+ community to hype-up the bigoted Republican voters. Does that sound like someone who is taking into account the intent of the book burners?

  3. Suppose a guest speaker makes a false statement that she believes to be true, but FoxNews knows that the statement is false. Then, from the speaker's POV it's not a lie, but from FoxNews's POV it is a lie. Hmm?

    1. Really? If a guest from the Flat Earth Society says that the Earth is flat, that means that the host is lying?

    2. Doesn’t it depend if Fox knew in advance the guest would say false things and didn’t challenge them?

    3. What has been shown is that Fox was aware they were putting out nonsensical
      claims in a way that the viewer would perceive as credible information. That’s
      what trial will be about. The judge is
      correct in not allowing arguments
      claiming things that have been shown
      to be false are true. Which is what
      Bob’s position would be if it was
      MSNBC being sued.

    4. I personally find this worrisome. Most politicians lie, including the President, whoever s/he is. Can a TV station be sued for presenting the State of the Union speech?

    5. David, the dominion case hinges on the “neutral reporting privilege”. The news media is allowed to report on something newsworthy even if it’s a false statement by someone else. They are not allowed to promote and espouse the false statements. That is what dominion is alleging here in this case, not questioning whether it was “newsworthy.” In other words, fox was not being neutral in its reporting, but rather promoting the lies. That is dominion‘s allegation. Please don’t let Somerby or Peters lead you astray on the facts of this case.

    6. The judge has already ruled that Fox was not merely broadcasting or reporting, but promoting the lies. They were not acting in good faith, said the judge.

    7. The only thing left to decide is whether Fox knew the statements were false, or exhibited a reckless disregard for their truth or falsity. That’s the standard for “actual malice.”

    8. Let's be clear about this. If Rudy or the other idiots believed their false narrative and Fox executives understood that they were nuts spewing bullshit, the promotion of that narrative was Fox's lie. It's not complicated unless you are set on a solving the Murdoch cabal.

    9. "curiourser and curiourser..." on what basis? Here is where Bobby shows his hand. There is absolutely nothing about the judge's ruling that is difficult to understand. Either Bobby doesn't grasp the simple concept here or he is running flack for Fox.

    10. @9:28 PM: "The judge has already ruled that Fox was not merely broadcasting or reporting, but promoting the lies. "

      Cracka, please. All the judge ruled was that the lawsuit can proceed to trial.

      Everything else was dear judge blowing hot air.

      ...and that's what you're doing here too, dear...

    11. Mao seems not to understand the judge’s summary judgment, or what a summary judgment is, of that a judge’s ruling actually means something.

    12. @3:41 AM
      In any case, dear Bob is correct (and dear mh isn't): there's no term "lies" in the relevant statute.

      It's "false statement". Which, in the context of this case, amounts to 'allegation not supported by sufficient evidence.

      ...and that's all there is to it...

    13. The idea that there are Liberals more condescending to Republican voters than Fox News, is one of Bob's stupider theories. This case puts his moronic theory to bed for good.

    14. Good news for David in Cal.
      Black unemployment is now at lowest level ever recorded, 5%. You must be ecstatic.

  4. The Dominion story of the day is not how lie is defined; but that Fox has witheld evidence from Domi ion during discovery. Used to enjoy reading Bob back in the Iraq War days, but drifted away a decade or so back mostly since Mao is such a useless ass. Think it is time to drift away again as not learning anything from Bob, and Mao persists.

  5. The second amendment is evil.

  6. So, Bob has now cast himself as Fox’s defender. His reputation or even role as
    a legitimate critic of Press malfeasance,
    which is something of a public advocacy
    role, is officially in the garbage.
    One assumes that part of the judges
    role is to set aside arguments that are
    clearly nonsensical or made in
    obvious bad faith. It’s sort of what
    Courts are for. The idea that Fox was
    merely reporting, rather than promoting
    these arguments, has been shown
    to be nonsense.
    Bob doesn’t think so. But Bob thinks
    the “disordered” Trump should also
    be taken at his word. Well, given
    Bob’s standards we would save a
    lot of money, as all prisons could
    be demolished, and any wrong doer
    must simply be taken at his word.
    You shouldn’t, at this point, take
    Bob at his word, his lust to see
    MSNBC bested. is his only guiding emotion.
    See you in Court, Bob.

  7. 80-year-old segregation wall finally comes down in Baltimore


    White Baltimore residents banded together in the late 1930s to erect the wall in response to the growing number of Black people in the area attending Morgan State, a historically Black institution. On Tuesday, University President David Wilson, school officials and residents watched as an excavator destroyed the barrier.

    “We had no choice but to tear it down,” Wilson said in an interview. “We couldn’t have this symbol of hate staring down every single day. This was an easy decision for us. It was time for us to tear down that hate.”

    “For the white community, this spite wall was to send a signal and to physically create a divider that would symbolize the segregation that they stood for,” said Dale Green, a professor and architectural historian at Morgan State. “They were not supportive of the integration of African Americans into the greater society. The wall was to fortify the whites from the Blacks.”

    Read more:

  8. Trump could have been arraigned via Zoom, but his lawyers insisted that he would come to NYC. He also orchestrated his motorcade from Trump Tower to the courthouse and he urged his supporters to come out and protest. Arguably, he created the publicity surrounding his indictment, yet now he wishes to use that publicity to postpone another trial. Stalling and delaying has been part of his defense against lawsuits during his entire lifetime.

    From Democratic Underground

    Trump seeks 4-week delay in rape accuser's trial, cites 'prejudicial' media coverage

    Source: Reuters

    Donald Trump asked a U.S. judge to delay the scheduled April 25 trial over whether he defamed former Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll by denying he raped her, citing the recent "deluge of prejudicial media coverage" of criminal charges against him.

    In a Tuesday night letter to U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan, Trump's lawyers said a four-week "cooling off" period to at least May 23 was necessary to guarantee the former U.S. president's right to a fair trial in Carroll's case.

    Absent a delay, "many, if not most, prospective jurors will have the criminal allegations top of mind when judging President Trump's defense against Ms. Carroll's allegations," Trump's lawyers Joe Tacopina and Alina Habba said in the letter.

    Read more:

  9. It’s a good time to note that while Bill
    Maher and others champion Must as a
    Defender of Free Speech, Twitter
    and Facebook were running from
    Trump to protect themselves legally.
    It now looks like it was a pretty
    sound call.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. “A judge ruled on Tuesday that Fox News could not argue that it broadcast false information about Dominion Voting Systems on the basis that the allegations were newsworthy.

    At least as it's described in that passage, that ruling sounds a bit shaky.

    Does that ruling mean that a news channel can never broadcast a false allegation on the basis that it's newsworthy?”

    The ruling is not about “newsworthiness.” That isn’t what Peters is saying either. Somerby could have checked this.

    The judge’s ruling in the summary judgment was about what is called the “neutral reporting privilege.” The plaintiff must show that Fox didn’t merely report on the false statements about Dominion, but rather “ espoused and concurred in the challenged statements.”

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. In other words, Fox is saying that they were allowed to report on the election lies because they were newsworthy. They are invoking the neutral reporting privilege. However the judge determined that they were not acting in good faith: “ the evidence does not support that Fox conducted good faith, disinterested reporting.”
      This was part of the summary judgment.


  13. for this: "Does that ruling mean that a news channel can never broadcast a false allegation on the basis that it's newsworthy?"

    Here's the answer, dear Bob: when they broadcast false allegations (which of course they do 24x7x52), they need to make sure there is no potential plaintiff.

    Hunter Biden laptop story is Russian disinformation? Sure, no problem. Musk's Twitter is a criminal organization? Hmm, no, maybe not...

    1. Great defense of Fox:
      Playing a bunch of mouth-breathing bigoted morons for the fools they are, is legal.

  14. Oof, this didn’t age well for Somerby, audio just released shows the Trump campaign confirming to Fox producers that there was no issue with Dominion voting machines. Yet another faceplant for Somerby.

  15. Hello I greatly recommend you Via our ongoing Invitation to join our Great Illuminati and become Rich and Famous.

    With help of Bryan George Steil make me believe that illuminati is real, when you come across wrong person’s you will think that life is not real but when you are with the real one you will experience the goodness of your life, Mr Bryan George Steil has made me discovered my purpose of life. Welcome to the great brotherhood of Illuminati and everyone in other Countries can join the Illuminati brotherhood to get rich and famous, Are you a Business man/woman, retirement pensioner, musical artist, student, footballer Pastor, pianist, engineer, scientist, lawyer, Politician, Model, Music Teacher, Photographer, Musician, Doctor, fashion artist, Footballer, pilot, Swimmer, social media influencer, philanthropist, filmmaker, and podcast host, producer, tv host, comedian, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), e.t.c? Do you want to be a Famous Artist or an Actor or whatever occupation you do, you want to be rich, powerful and famous in life. Illuminati can grant all your heart desires to join the Illuminati to become rich and famous in life, Illuminati will make you achieve all your dreams to become rich and protected all the days of your life…… BENEFIT GIVEN TO A NEW MEMBER WHO JOIN THE ILLUMINATI a new dream car valued at $200,000.00 USD a dream house to build in any country of your own choice one month holiday (fully paid) to your dream tourist destination. One year golf membership package a V I P treatment in all airports in the world a total lifestyle change access to bohemian grove, a membership benefit funds amount $1,500,0000 USD to start of a business that will be bring profit to you monthly, one month booked appointment with our leaders and some celebrities» JOIN ILLUMINATI YOUR FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES ARE BROUGHT TO AN END. WE SUPPORT YOU BOTH FINANCIALLY AND PHYSICALLY SPIRITUALLY TO ENSURE YOU LIVE A COMFORTABLE LIFE . IF YOU ARE INTERESTED CONTACT Email: For immediate response… Note: There aren't any Human sacrifices and no bloody involvement.

    The Club of the Rich and Famous; the world oldest and largest fraternity. We are one Family under one father who is the Supreme Being. In Illuminati we believe that we were born in paradise and no member should struggle in this world. Hence all our new members are given Money Rewards once they join in order to upgrade their lifestyle.; interested viewers should get instant initiated to the Illuminati Brotherhood membership profit funds, sum of $1,500,000.00 USD to start off a business that will be profitable.

    After Illuminati membership profit funds, a sum of $1,500,000.00 USD was given to me to start a profitable business, I now earn a daily profit of $50,000 USD for just inviting new customers to The Club of the Rich and Famous and being part of this life changing opportunity.

    Invite customers Get reward 100% guaranteed and legitimacy

    Please note, Kindly make sure all your responses are sent directly to the Illuminati secret Authorities email stated above only at: For more instructions on our membership process.