Fox News Settles $1.6 Billion Defamation Lawsuit with Dominion Over 2020 Election Coverage
Fox News has settled a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from voting machine firm Dominion over its coverage of the 2020 US election. The settlement saw Fox News agree to pay Dominion $787.5 million, effectively ending the two-year defamation case against the network over allegations that it knowingly aired false information aimed at undercutting public confidence in the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. The case centred around a series of segments in which Fox hosts allowed lawyers affiliated with former President Donald Trump to falsely claim that Dominion had rigged the election against the former president.
Dominion Voting Systems had sued Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corp., in 2021, claiming the network knowingly broadcast lies being perpetuated by Trump and his attorneys as he clung to power in the months after his 2020 election loss. It was anticipated that the trial would center on whether Fox News or Fox Corporation had disseminated the false allegations against Dominion with “actual malice.” According to the Supreme Court's previous rulings, Dominion would need to demonstrate that those who aired the segments were aware of their falsehood or acted recklessly without considering the truthfulness of the allegations.
Dominion accused the network of defaming their election technology company after the 2020 election. Fox hosts gave a platform to lawyers linked with Donald Trump, who made false claims that Dominion had rigged the election against the former president. Following a lengthy period of pretrial litigation spanning two years, the network was facing considerable difficulties in its defense. Presiding judge Eric M. Davis had recently issued a decision that provided Dominion with a significant advantage going into the trial. Judge Davis had concluded that evidence obtained during pretrial discovery had already established that a number of critical issues, such as the veracity of the claims in question, were beyond dispute and would not be contested during the trial. Today's settlement can be attributed to the fact that Dominion had a significant victory, while Fox suffered a significant defeat.
The settlement seems to be more about the egregious behavior of Fox, its executives, and employees towards Dominion rather than other media outlets. Fox is currently facing the consequences of a remarkable instance of media misconduct. This is not to disregard the expenses incurred by Fox. This settlement is among the most significant defamation compensations ever made, accounting for almost 6% of Fox's total revenue in 2022. The rush to reach a settlement at the eleventh hour implies that the corporation was determined to avoid having its top performers or executive chairman, Rupert Murdoch, testify in court. However, for Fox, the payout in the nine-figure range has proven to be a necessary expense to ensure the network's survival and continued operation.
Fox stated after the agreement that the settlement demonstrated their ongoing dedication to upholding the utmost standards of journalism. 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.” However, the settlement is unlikely to end Fox News’ editorial strategy of obscuring truths that could alienate its mostly right-wing audience.
0. “Dominion Lawyer Dodges When Asked If Employees She Says Need ‘Closure’ Will Get Any Money from Fox News Settlement” Mediaite, 19 Apr. 2023, https://www.mediaite.com/tv/dominion-lawyer-dodges-when-asked-if-employees-will-see-any-money-from-fox-news-settlement/
1. “Fox News reaches $787.5M settlement with Dominion in defamation case” The News Journal, 18 Apr. 2023, https://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/nation/2023/04/18/fox-news-reaches-settlement-with-dominion-1-6b-defamation-election-trump/70121901007/
2. “Why Fox News had to settle the Dominion suit” POLITICO, 19 Apr. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/04/18/why-fox-news-had-to-settle-the-dominion-suit-00092708
3. “Tapper laughs reading Fox News settlement statement: ‘Difficult to say with a straight face’” The Hill, 18 Apr. 2023, https://thehill.com/homenews/media/3957555-tapper-laughs-reading-fox-news-settlement-statement-difficult-to-say-with-a-straight-face/
4. “Fox News Lost the Lawsuit but Won the War” The Atlantic, 18 Apr. 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/04/fox-news-lost-lawsuit-won-war/673760/
5. “Fox News, Dominion Voting Systems reach lawsuit settlement in high-stakes defamation case” CBS News, 18 Apr. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fox-news-dominion-voting-systems-lawsuit-settlement/