Fox News Agrees to $787.5 Million Settlement in Dominion Voting Systems Defamation Lawsuit

Fox News Agrees to $787.5 Million Settlement in Dominion Voting Systems Defamation Lawsuit
Fox News Agrees to $787.5 Million Settlement in Dominion Voting Systems Defamation Lawsuit

Fox News is an American cable news television channel that launched in 1996. It is owned by Fox Corporation, which Rupert Murdoch controls. Fox News is known for its conservative political commentary and opinion programming, which includes shows hosted by prominent conservative figures such as Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham. In recent years, the channel has faced controversy for its coverage of political events, including the 2020 US presidential election, which led to defamation lawsuits by Dominion and Smartmatic, two election technology firms.

Can Fox News can Pay

Fox News has reached a last-minute settlement with Dominion, the voting machine firm, over a defamation lawsuit relating to the 2020 US election. The network, controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his family, agreed to pay Dominion $787.5m (£634m), avoiding what some had billed as the defamation trial of the century. However, the network still faces a similar lawsuit from Smartmatic, another election technology firm. Although the payout is significant, it is less than half the $1.6bn initially sought by Dominion. Fox Corporation reported a net income of $1.23bn for the last financial year and has around $4bn in cash reserves. Meanwhile, Dominion still has outstanding cases against Fox’s smaller rivals, Newsmax and OAN, plus several former President Donald Trump associates.

Fox News settles

Fox News has settled a defamation lawsuit with Dominion, the voting machine company, over its 2020 US presidential election reporting. The network has agreed to pay $787.5m, half of the $1.6bn Dominion had initially sought. Dominion claimed that Fox’s false claims that the vote had been rigged against Donald Trump harmed its business. The settlement spares Fox executives such as Rupert Murdoch from having to testify. Dominion’s CEO, John Poulos, said the deal involved Fox “admitting to telling lies, causing enormous damage to my company.”

Opening arguments in the defamation lawsuit between Dominion and Fox News were delayed on Tuesday, leading to speculation that the two sides were negotiating a settlement. On Monday, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis announced a 24-hour delay to allow both parties to explore a territory. However, on Tuesday morning, both sides appeared to be preparing for a lengthy trial. Fox had objected to Dominion’s claim for $1.6bn in damages, characterizing the sum as excessively high, and argued that the case was about protecting the rights of free speech and the press enshrined in the US Constitution’s First Amendment.

The electronic voting company Dominion accused Fox News of harming its reputation by airing false claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against former President Donald Trump. The company argued that Fox News aimed to win over viewers who were outraged by the network’s decision to correctly call that Joe Biden had won Arizona on election night. According to legal findings, Fox executives and journalists privately dismissed the conspiracy claims that the election was stolen but still broadcasted them on air. The lawsuit resulted in a $787.5m settlement from Fox News, which Dominion has accepted.

Legal experts suggest that the settlement was also a positive outcome for Dominion as it may serve as a warning to other media outlets that may consider spreading misinformation about the election. The settlement amount may deter other companies who may consider broadcasting such unfounded claims. However, some experts also argue that more than the settlement may be needed to prevent the spread of misinformation in the future, as other media outlets may continue to air baseless claims if they believe that it is in their interest to do so.

The “actual malice” standard requires public figures to prove that false statements were made with knowledge of their falsity or reckless disregard for whether they were true or false. If Dominion had successfully established that Fox News acted with actual malice, it could have set a legal precedent with far-reaching implications for future defamation cases and the First Amendment. The settlement allows Fox News to avoid such a ruling, which could have been even more damaging to its reputation and financial health.

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