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Home » Fox News settles its case with Dominion: What does it all mean?

Fox News settles its case with Dominion: What does it all mean?

The so-called Media Trial of the Century won’t go to trial after all.

Just as lawyers for both sides were about to give their opening statements, Judge Eric Davis entered the courtroom and announced the stunning news: “The parties have resolved the case.”

Just like that, it was over. Over before it really even got started.

But the aftershocks will continue.

Dominion Voting Systems was suing Fox News for $1.6 billion, claiming the network had guests on air who put forth unproven lies that Dominion’s voting machines flipped the election from Donald Trump to Joe Biden and that Fox News knew the claims were not true. In addition, Dominion alleged some Fox News hosts seemingly endorsed the lies and executives allowed it all to happen to placate viewers.

In the end, the two parties reached a settlement with Fox News agreeing to pay Dominion $787.5 million. Perhaps just as importantly, Dominion made its point: Fox News lied.

Justin Nelson, a lawyer for Dominion, told the media outside the Wilmington, Delaware, courtroom, “The truth matters. Lies have consequences. Over two years ago, a torrent of lies swept Dominion election officials across America into an alternative universe of conspiracy theories causing grievous harm to Dominion and the country.”

Dominion CEO John Poulos told reporters, “Fox has admitted to telling lies about Dominion that caused enormous damage to my company, our employees and the customers that we serve.”

Indeed, it’s a dark time for Fox News, its reputation severely damaged by not only the settlement but the many details discovered in the weeks and months leading up to Tuesday through depositions and internal emails, text messages and other communications. Those revelations indicated that Fox News knew that false claims were going out over its airways and allowed it to happen to stay in the good graces of its audience and, perhaps, Trump himself.

In addition, Judge Davis had already ruled in a pretrial hearing that statements Fox News had aired about Dominion were false and that its assertion that they were merely covering the news of what Trump and his advisers were saying could not be used as a defense.

But a settlement does provide a silver lining for Fox News. Some of its biggest names — including founder and parent company chairman Rupert Murdoch, top Fox News executives, and on-air personalities such as Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Maria Bartiromo — won’t have to testify. They won’t face embarrassing questions that could have further eroded an already tattered reputation regarding its coverage of the 2020 election and, specifically, Dominion Voting Systems.

The settlement also allows Fox News to avoid more awful press for the next six weeks — the expected length of the trial.

CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times all reported that Fox News hosts won’t have to apologize or even acknowledge lies about Dominion on the air. In a statement released right after the judge’s announcement, Fox News acknowledged it had lied, but did not apologize.

The statement said, “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. 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.”

Based on the lack of an apology or on-air acknowledgment, Fox News might see the settlement as not a total loss. However, the monetary figure of more than $787 million is staggering — believed to be one of the largest settlements in a defamation case in U.S. history.

Elie Honig, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, told CNN, “Translated it means ‘we got caught lying by the judge’ — and I think that’s exactly why we are seeing this absolutely jaw-dropping number.”

It’s about half of what Dominion was asking for in the trial. But Honig said, “I didn’t think there was any way they would get $1.6 billion — even when they proved their case, even if they proved it overwhelmingly to a jury. Let’s remember, by its own estimation, Dominion valued the entire company at somewhere between $30 and $80 million. This settlement is 10 times the value of Dominion as an entire company. That’s how strong a statement this is with this number.”

But for a public hoping to get a pound of flesh from Fox News or craving to hear Murdoch, Carlson and Hannity squirming under intense questioning, that will not happen. Immediately following Tuesday’s breaking news, the settlement was not mentioned on the air or on the Fox News website. (Fox News’ website did publish a short story later in the evening.)

Veteran media reporter Brian Stelter tweeted, “You could argue that Dominion wins but the public loses.”

But this does not mean that Fox News can move on. The network’s legal troubles are far from over. Another voting systems company, Smartmatic, has filed a $2.7 billion lawsuit against Fox News.

In a statement, Smartmatic attorney J. Erik Connolly said, “Dominion’s litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign. Smartmatic will expose the rest. Smartmatic remains committed to clearing its name, recouping the significant damage done to the company, and holding Fox accountable for undermining democracy.”

And Dominion isn’t done yet either. Dominion attorney Stephen Shackelford told reporters, “Money is accountability, and we got that today from Fox, but we’re not done yet. We’ve got some other people who have some accountability coming toward them. And we’ll move right on to the next one.”

Meanwhile, Tuesday’s settlement is another example of wild conspiracy theories about the 2020 election once again being proven wrong.

CNN commentator David Axelrod tweeted, “This Fox settlement also is one more crushing blow to the conspiracy mongers who tried to steal an election on the basis of false charges and intimidation.”

Portions of this report were published in an earlier story on

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