Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems settled a high-profile defamation lawsuit, but another pending defamation lawsuit could still push Fox into court.
The Settlement: The day the trial scheduled to begin, Fox News settled and agreed to pay $787.5 million, roughly half the original $1.6 billion sought in the suit.
Dominion lawyer Justin Nelson stated, “The truth matters. Lies have consequences. Over two years ago, a torrent of lies swept Dominion and election officials across America into an alternative universe of conspiracy theories causing grievous harm to Dominion and the country.” A statement from Fox Corp read, "We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial, allows the country to move forward from these issues."
For Context: In early 2021, Dominion Voting Systems filed a civil lawsuit against Fox Corp, the parent company of Fox News (Right Bias). The suit alleged that Fox News defamed Dominion during the network's coverage of the 2020 presidential election, which featured claims that voting machines were being used to manipulate election results.
During the lead-up to the trial, numerous court filings were released featuring statements from major figures at Fox News, such as host Tucker Carlson (Right Bias) and former CEO and acting chairman Rupert Murdoch. These statements gave new insight into the network's mindset during the 2020 election, revealing that some personalities expressed fear of losing viewers to networks entertaining election fraud conspiracies.
How The Media Covered It: Each pretrial development was covered heavily by left-rated outlets and mildly by Fox's competing outlets on the right. The response to the settlement announcement was split down the aisle. The general mood from left-rated writers was disappointment that Fox avoided a high-profile, potentially reputation-damaging trial. Voices on the right broadly expressed relief that both a trial and verdict were avoided, fearing the implications of a court ruling pertaining to news media could result in added restrictions on the first amendment.
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Snippets from the Left
The Dominion saga exposed Fox for the propaganda outlet it's always been, but accountability cannot end with the settlement
Media Matters (opinion)
"Even without the trial, the network has been completely exposed for what critics like Media Matters have long shown that it is: a shameless Republican propaganda organ that prioritizes profit and politics over anything resembling journalistic ethics."
"Just like with Fox News, Dominion is seeking $1.6 billion from both OAN and Newsmax. And while much of Dominion’s argument against Fox focused on the network’s behind-the-scenes freakout over their viewers fleeing for Newsmax and OAN after the 2020 election, the legal strategy is probably much more straightforward against the two smaller far-right channels."
Snippets from the Center
"While Fox swiftly declared the settlement a victory, the media empire was also forced to acknowledge that 'certain claims' it made about Dominion were false, potentially putting it at odds with former President Donald Trump and vast swathes of its audience ahead of the upcoming 2024 election."
"The settlement robbed ardent media-watchers of the spectacle of a long trial. But it also robbed the public of a more definitive account, delivered publicly and under oath, of exactly what happened inside Fox News."
Snippets from the Right
"Today’s lawsuit settlement deters bad journalistic behavior by forcing a massive payout ($787.5 million) for the putrid ethics. But it sets no hard, fast legal precedent that massively erodes the bulwark of the First Amendment. Win-win."
"As much as the media ached for a Fox defeat in court, they ought to thank the company for settling. A verdict against the network might well have hurt the rest of the press by making it harder to defend against defamation claims."