Is A $787.5 Million Settlement Enough For What Fox News Did?

The $787.5 million payment agreed to by Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems to settle the cable network’s defamation lawsuit appears to be one of the highest in U.S. defamation case history. But is it enough to make this issue go away?

In a nutshell, Dominion sued Fox News for $1.6 billion, saying it damaged its reputation by repeatedly airing false claims that the company conspired in voter fraud. But the lawsuit opened so many more layers.

Among others, the legal documents outlined chats among Fox News anchors ridiculing privately their own guests that echo the assertion that the 2020 US presidential election was stolen by Joe Biden from Donald Trump. In the chats, it was revealed that some of the news presenters themselves don’t believe the guests but kept on interviewing them on the show to lend some credibility.

“We are pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute with Dominion Voting Systems. We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false,” Fox News said in announcing the settlement. “This settlement reflects FOX’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.”

Avoiding trial and admission

Speaking of the “highest journalistic standards,” Fox News will not be required to apologize for, or acknowledge, propagating misleading information on network programming as part of the settlement, according to a person familiar with the terms of the arrangement.

In a statement, Dominion CEO John Poulos said “Fox has admitted to telling lies about Dominion,” calling the settlement “historic.” But the company’s legal team didn’t answer questions about whether Fox will issue an apology.

Usually, when a media outfit publishes a report that is later found out to be a mistake, it is expected that it will issue an erratum.

It was a dramatic conclusion to a case that began two years ago and followed the release of hundreds of thousands of pages of papers that lifted the lid on a media giant that had long resisted outside examination.

Just as a highly anticipated trial was ready to begin, for which the jury was already selected, the settlement quickly ended a long-running battle about misinformation in the 2020 election.

Some Fox News critics had hoped for a six-week trial in which its anchors would be required to answer direct questions about whether they accepted election fraud claims. However, legal analysts believe the settlement should come as no surprise given that the great majority of libel cases settle before going to trial.

One of the biggest settlements

The $787.5 million payment made by Fox News is thought to be one of the largest settlements in a defamation case in US history. According to a recent corporate filing, the Fox Corporation had approximately $4.1 billion “of cash and cash equivalents” on hand at the end of last year.

In November, a jury ordered Infowars conspiracy broadcaster Alex Jones to pay more than $1.4 billion to the relatives of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting victims in Connecticut.

ABC News reached a settlement with Beef Products Inc. in 2017, after the company sued for defamation over an ABC News report about a processed meat product known as “pink slime.” Months later, ABC’s owner, the Walt Disney Company, disclosed in a financial filing that it had paid $177 million in settlement costs.

Far from over

Dominion’s legal cases are far from over, despite the fact that the Fox News case has been settled. The company is still suing Fox competitors Newsmax and OAN for defamation over allegations of election fraud, as well as MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, founder Patrick Byrne, and Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, both former lawyers for Trump.

“We’re not done yet. We have some other people who have some accountability coming toward them,” said Stephen Shackelford, member of Dominion’s legal team.

Fox News is also not yet out of the woods. Smartmatic, also a voting machine provider, is still suing the media outfit for $2.7 billion, claiming 100 misleading comments were broadcast by Fox News anchors and guests. Given that the case is parallel with Dominion’s, many observers believe that the media company would also move to settle the case.

“Dominion’s litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign. Smartmatic will expose the rest,” a Smartmatic spokesman said in a statement.

Information for this briefing was found via The New York Times and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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