FOX “news” is battling a $1.6 billion lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems, which claims it suffered damage to its reputation and to the lives and safety of its employees because FOX repeatedly aired conspiracy theories about the election. These theories, repeated numerous times on FOX, asserted that the Dominion Voting machines were programmed to flip votes from Trump to Biden. Some who were interviewed numerous times on air by leading talk-show hosts claimed that Dominion machines originated in Venezuela, when left-wing tyrant Hugo Chavez was president.

Depositions of the talk-show hosts and of Rupert Murdoch showed that none of them believed that Trump won the election, yet they continued to feature election deniers. The talk-show hosts laughed at the claims of the election deniers, yet interviewed them repeatedly.

FOX’s defense is that it was reporting the news. Any judgment against FOX, its lawyers say, would restrict freedom of the press. Read the debate here on NPR.

FOX’s lawyers rely on a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1964, New York Times v. Sullivan. The Times won the case, and the high court made it very difficult to sue a media outlet for defamation or libel.

As a result of that decision, the media and individuals can ridicule public officials without fear of being sued for libel or defamation.

Now, here is the irony: Conservatives don’t like the Sullivan decision. Trump railed against it. Justices Thomas and Gorsuch think it should be “reviewed,” presumably the way they reviewed Roe v. Wade.

Ron DeSantis has initiated legislation that would lower the bar for libel suits against public officials. He wants to be able to sue reporters and newspapers that criticize him.

If DeSantis had his way, FOX would undoubtedly lose its case. FOX now defends its lies by appealing to Sullivan. If DeSantis had his way, Dominion would win, and FOX would lose.