On Tuesday Fox News agreed to a settlement with Dominion Voting Systems over allegations that Fox defamed the company. The settlement represented a clear victory for Dominion, whose pre-trial discovery uncovered unambiguous evidence of Fox News executives and hosts blatantly lying.
Dominion got Fox News to agree to pay 3/4 of a billion dollars (787.5 million) in restitution for the network’s flagrant and deliberate dishonesty. While some people are disappointed that Fox wasn’t required to make public, on-air retractions and/or apologies, the unprecedented amount of the settlement is a pretty strong statement all by itself. Fox’s concession to shell out this much money is a de facto confession of guilt. And Dominion’s focus was properly on compensation for damages caused by Fox’s malicious lies. Now they will get paid immediately, rather than after multiple years of appeals. As Dominion’s lawyer said: “Lies have consequences.”
However, it’s also necessary to point out that this settlement is an indictment of Donald Trump. The lies that Fox News disseminated had a single purpose. And that was to prop up the “Big Lie” propagated by Trump that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged and stollen” (sic) from him. Consequently, when Fox agreed to this massive payoff, they were simultaneously conceding that Trump’s election fraud allegations were completely false.
Of course, the court had already made that determination in rulings to pre-trial motions. That, however, didn’t stop Fox from issuing a bizarre statement following the announcement of the settlement. The network said that…
“We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. This settlement reflects FOX’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards. 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.”
There’s a surprising quantity of bullpucky in that brief paragraph. First of all, the judge’s ruling that Fox is now acknowledging actually stated that “the evidence developed in this civil proceeding demonstrates that is CRYSTAL clear that none of the Statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true.” That’s a far cry from “certain claims” about Dominion being false. The court explicitly said that “none of the Statements” were true.
The judge further ruled that Fox News couldn’t pretend that they were merely reporting newsworthy comments by others when, in fact, they were making the false assertions themselves. So it’s preposterous that Fox now says that they have a “commitment to the highest journalistic standards.” They would have a hard time arguing that they have any ethical standards at all. Fox was proven to be more concerned about losing viewers and revenue, than they were about truthful reporting.
As for Fox News not being required to make on-air retractions or apologies, the record is now clear that Fox News deliberately lied to their viewers. Their own internal communications showed them expressing opinions that were wholly contradictory to what they said on the air. And agreeing to pay 3/4 of a billion dollars to Dominion affirms their knowledge that they were purposefully dishonest.
What’s more, the terms of these sort of settlements are generally confidential. The fact that the terms in this case were immediately made public is not an accident. It was likely a demand by Dominion that Fox was forced to accept during settlement negotiations. Rest assured that Fox would have preferred that the amount of their financial punishment were never disclosed.
Donald Trump also would have preferred that the terms of the settlement were confidential. Perhaps that’s why, 24 hours later, he has not said a single word about his Ministry of Propaganda being slapped with a huge penalty for lying on his behalf. He knows this is as much a condemnation of his own dishonesty as it is of Fox’s. However, after he’s had time to come up with some feeble excuse that puts all of the blame on Fox, he will post it on his floundering Twitter ripoff, Truth Social.
Finally, this isn’t over by a long shot. There are still pending lawsuits against Fox News and their personnel. They include…
- Dominion: There are still has pending lawsuits against individuals who frequently lied about Dominion on Fox News, including Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Mike Lindell.
- Smartmatic: Another voting technology company still has a $2.7 billion lawsuit pending against Fox News, Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Rudy Giuliani. The defendants falsely accused Smartmatic, a Florida company, of being founded in Venezuela, and conspiring to switch votes from Trump to Biden.
- Abby Grossberg: The former Fox News producer for Tucker Carlson and Maria Bartiromo, claims that she was coerced to falsify testimony in the Dominion case.
- Fox Corp Shareholders: Investors are exploring legal options to hold Fox News directors and executives accountable for losses due to their malfeasance.
It remains to be seen if Fox News will take punitive actions for the costly malfeasance of their employees. Everyone from their president, Suzanne Scott, to hosts such as Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, are at risk for some sort of discipline, up to and including termination. And while no one expects them to stop lying, the network will have to be far more careful about the lies they tell in the future.
And check out my books on Amazon:
Thanks so much for your support.