Can the country move forward from this now?
Fox News has reached a settlement with Dominion Voting Systems over the network’s coverage of former President Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. The agreement was reached just hours before the defamation trial was scheduled to begin in a Delaware courtroom, putting an end to months of legal battles.
The details of the settlement were not immediately made public, but Dominion lawyer Justin Nelson revealed that it amounted to $787.5 million. Fox News Media issued a statement expressing its satisfaction with the settlement and acknowledging that certain claims about Dominion were false. The network also expressed hope that the resolution would allow the country to move forward from these issues without further acrimony.
Dominion initially filed the lawsuit in 2021, alleging that Fox knowingly aired false information about the voting machine company’s software, which was being promoted by Trump and his allies. Internal communications and depositions given to Dominion’s lawyers revealed that top hosts and executives at Fox cast doubt internally on Trump’s claims while worrying over how fact-checks might alienate the network’s audience.
Fox argued that the comments of its employees made public by Dominion had been “cherry-picked” and that the allegations made by Trump and his associates were newsworthy, so the network had a journalistic duty to present them to its audience.
Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis ruled that the statements made by Trump’s associates in question were false, and rejected Fox’s attempts to throw out Dominion’s claims based on First Amendment privileges. The revelations from the lawsuit have already caused embarrassment for the cable network, including text messages from top host Tucker Carlson expressing his hatred of Trump and Fox’s top talent privately insulting attorney Sidney Powell over the claims at the center of the suit.
The settlement ends what had been widely seen as a precedent-setting moment for defamation law that could have severely altered the financial and reputational health of the country’s largest cable news company. The resolution also shields Fox from a potentially embarrassing and grueling span of several weeks focusing on its internal strife around the time of the 2020 election.