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Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch dismisses $1.6 billion defamation case revelations as ‘noise’

The News Corporation building is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., May 5, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

(CNN) — Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch on Thursday dismissed the revelations from Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News as “noise,” throwing his support behind the right-wing talk channel in his first comments since the case enveloped the company in major scandal.

“I think a lot of the noise that you hear about this case, is actually not about the law and it’s not about journalism,” Murdoch told the audience at Morgan Stanley’s annual Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference.

“It’s really about the politics,” Murdoch continued. “Unfortunately, that is more reflective of our polarized society that we live in today.”

Murdoch indicated that the case will go to trial in April. He portrayed Fox News as having reported on the 2020 election “fulsomely” and “without fear or favor.”

Dominion, however, alleged in its 2021 lawsuit that during the 2020 presidential election Fox News “recklessly disregarded the truth” and pushed various pro-Trump conspiracy theories about the election technology company because “the lies were good for Fox’s business.”

Fox News has strongly disputed Dominion’s allegations.

The recent filings in the case has unearthed a trove of private text messages, emails, and deposition transcripts, revealing the network’s executives and hosts privately trashed former Trump’s election lies, despite allowing them to gain a foothold on air.

Among the thousands of pages of documents released in the case include repeated statements from Fox Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch rejecting conspiracy theories about Dominion. The elder Murdoch also conceded in an email that perhaps some of his top hosts, such as Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, “went too far.”

The younger Murdoch, however, threw his full support behind Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott, a key Murdoch lieutenant whose future has come into question amid the ongoing scandal.

“The position of the channel is very strong and doing very well,” he said. “And this is really important, it’s a credit to Suzanne Scott and all her team there. They’ve done a tremendous job running this business.”

The comments from Murdoch come as Fox News staffers remain in the dark about the lawsuit, with several employees telling CNN that “there has been nothing” communicated to them.

“People are really shocked and disgusted,” the staffer said of the revelations. “Even longtime staffers. You would think after all we’ve been through nothing could surprise us. But this is unprecedented.”

Dominion challenges Fox redactions

Dominion on Thursday filed a legal motion challenging the numerous redactions Fox has made in court filings and exhibits released in the case, the latest filing in the lawsuit.

When exhibits such as text messages and emails are made public in lawsuits, it is standard for parties to redact personal information, such as phone numbers and email addresses.

Dominion, however, believes that Fox has abused its redaction privileges in the case.

“Dominion does not challenge Fox’s decision to redact contact information such as phone numbers and emails provided it is still apparent from the face of the document who is sending/receiving/copied on the communication,” the motion said.

However, Dominion said its position is that “confidential treatment of these materials is not warranted” based on case law standards.

In a statement Thursday, a Fox News spokesperson said, “Fox’s redactions are consistent with the law and court rulings.”

“Such grounds include redactions in accordance with the reporters’ privilege,” the spokesperson said. “The parties previously agreed to a schedule for resolution of redaction issues and under that schedule Dominion filed its notice today [Thursday] and Fox will file its position with the court tomorrow [Friday] so that redaction issues can be resolved before oral argument on summary judgment motions on March 21. And for reference, it was Dominion that refused to agree to allow Fox to make its response to Dominion’s summary judgment motion public at the same time as Dominion’s motion on February 16 and Fox’s response remained completely under seal until February 27.”

Filings in the case reviewed by CNN have included numerous redactions passages, including when Fox executives and personalities are quoted. The significant redactions have raised eyebrows about what Fox News is trying to prevent from being made public.