Fox News Agrees To Pay $787M To Settle Dominion False-Election Claims Case; “Fox Has Admitted To Telling Lies,” Voting Systems CEO Says

Fox News Agrees To Pay $787M To Settle Dominion False-Election Claims Case; “Fox Has Admitted To Telling Lies,” Voting Systems CEO Says

April 18, 2023

(Updated with Fox News statement, settlement sums & Dominion CEO remarks ) Fox News has settled Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the Rupert Murdoch-owned organization, averting a lengthy, expensive and certain to be embarrassing trial.

“The parties have resolved their case,” Delaware Superior Court judge, Eric M. Davis just told the court, offering no details. News of the settlement was strategically made public right before Wall Street ceased trading for the day.

Fox paid Dominion $787.5 million under the deal, lawyers for the company said afterwards outside the courtroom. “Fox has admitted to telling lies about Dominion that caused enormous damage to my company, our employees and the customers we serve,” added Dominion CEO John Poulos. “Nothing can make up for that.”

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Neither Poulos nor attorneys indicated if any substantial retraction or public apology from Fox was a part of the settlement. However, Fox themselves were quick to address the settlement in crafted language that appears to softly walk back the tone of their on-air claims that the 2020 election was stolen from incumbent Donald Trump.

“We are pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute with Dominion Voting Systems,” a Fox spokesperson said after the agreement was announced. “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.”

Following a flurry of post-lunch break activity Tuesday in and out of Judge Davis’s chambers, the agreement comes soon after the 12-person jury was seated, a special master had been appointed to probe Fox compliance. Opening statements were set to begin late this morning Pacific time, but that plan went awry as spectators sat in the courtroom for nearly two hours with no idea what was going down.

Though a settlement is nothing new to Fox and Murdoch-owned entities, with nothing unveiled at this late hour, things seemed until well into this morning to be going full steam to a six-week trial. With the flood of scathing and hypocritical internal correspondence between execs and Fox hosts like Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham over Trump and his false claims of the 2020 election being stolen that had come out in recent weeks, it looked like the company was eager to make a deal with the private equity firm backed Dominion and spare the 92-year-old Murdoch having to testify

A hint of that seemed to be on the horizon in the past 48 hours.

On Sunday night, just over 12 hours before jurors were to began being picked, Judge Davis, suddenly delayed the start of the trial to Tuesday. The move immediately triggered speculation that both sides were engaged in some kind of huddle to reach a resolution. Talks were said to be underway this weekend, but the situation remained “fluid,” according to a well positioned legal source.

The next morning, the judge publicly reiterated his statement of April 16, saying “I have made the decision to delay the start of the trial until tomorrow. With only one attorney from each side present, the judge offered the otherwise packed Wilmington courtroom and media overflow room no reason for the abrupt delay, but said that such occurrences are not “unusual” in such proceedings

The high profile trial would likely have meant that an array of Fox executives, including the elder Murdoch and board member and ex-House Speaker Paul Ryan, would have to take the stand for live testimony. Additionally, some of the network’s best known and most controversial hosts, including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Maria Bartiromo, were on Dominion’s witness list as was Fox boss Lachlan Murdoch.

In what looked to be another damning portrait of the Murdoch-own conservative outlet, Dominion’s attorneys planned to offer up emails and text messages showing that the Murdochs, Fox top brass and news personalities personally doubted and derided Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was rigged, yet still let the allegations be amplified on-air by hosts and guests. Many of those correspondence have already come out in pre-trial filings and hearings, though ignored by Fox on-air and left a distinct stink in the court of public opinion

Judge Davis ruled in late March that the case could move forward with trial, rejecting one of Fox’s claims that the network was merely covering a president’s newsworthy allegations of election fraud. He determined that the claims made on air about Dominion were false, leaving it to the jury to decide whether the network was liable for actual malice. He also left it to the jury to determine whether Fox Corp., not just Fox News, was liable.

The Delaware judge also said that he planned to appoint a special master to investigate claims that Fox had withheld evidence in the case. That could have led to sanctions against the Fox legal team, although one of its attorneys wrote a letter and apologized to the judge, characterizing it as a misunderstanding.

A trial would have been one of the most closely watched defamation trials in recent memory, with a potential impact on judicial interpretation of the law if the jury’s verdict was appealed to higher courts.

Having settled this matter and a related defamation suit brought by Venezuelan businessman Majed Khalil on April 9, Fox still faces a massive lawsuit from another election systems company, Smartmatic. Dominion and Smartmatic also have claims against two other conservative news outlets, Newsmax and One America News.

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