Fox Corp and Fox News on Tuesday settled a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million, Dominion disclosed.
"Fox has admitted to telling lies about Dominion that caused enormous damage to my company, our employees, and the customers that we serve," Dominion CEO John Poulos, said at a news conference.
Dominion Voting Systems and Fox News have reached a settlement of $787.5 million in the defamation case. While the electronic voting company was suing the cable news giant for $1.6 billion, the settlement "represents vindication and accountability," Dominion's attorneys say. pic.twitter.com/SNuNozPaa0
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 18, 2023
Dominion lawyers declined to answer questions about whether Fox News would apologize publicly or make reforms.
The settlement was announced by Fox, Dominion, and the judge in the case at the 11th hour, averting a high-profile trial putting one of the world's top media companies in the crosshairs over its coverage of false vote-rigging claims in the 2020 U.S. election. A 12-person jury was selected on Tuesday morning, and the case was poised to kick off with opening statements on Tuesday afternoon.
Dominion had sought $1.6 billion in damages in the lawsuit filed in 2021, with Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis presiding over the case in Wilmington. Fox Corp reported nearly $14 billion in annual revenue last year.
"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," Fox said in a statement.
At issue in the lawsuit was whether Fox was liable for airing the false claims that Denver-based Dominion's ballot-counting machines were used to manipulate the 2020 U.S. election in favor of Democrat Joe Biden over Republican then-President Donald Trump. Dominion argued that these on-air claims caused the company "enormous and irreparable economic harm."
Davis had ordered a one-day trial postponement on Monday before another delay on Tuesday, apparently as the two sides hammered out a deal.
The deal spares Fox from having some of its best-known figures called to the witness stand, including executives such as Rupert Murdoch, the 92-year-old media mogul who serves as Fox Corp chairman, and Fox CEO Suzanne Scott as well as on-air hosts including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Jeanine Pirro.
The decision to settle also followed a ruling by the judge last month that Fox could not invoke free speech protections under the U.S. Constitution in its defense.
Fox News is the most-watched U.S. cable news network, according to Nielsen.
The primary question for jurors was to be whether Fox knowingly spread false information or recklessly disregarded the truth, the standard of "actual malice" that Dominion must show to prevail in a defamation case.
In February court filings, Dominion cited a trove of internal communications in which Murdoch and other Fox figures privately acknowledged that the vote-rigging claims made about Dominion on-air were false.
Dominion said Fox amplified the untrue claims to boost its ratings and prevent its viewers from migrating to other media competitors on the right including One America News Network, which Dominion is suing separately.
Another U.S. voting technology company, Smartmatic, is pursuing its own defamation lawsuit against Fox seeking $2.7 billion in damages in a New York state court.
Fox had argued that claims by Trump and his lawyers about the election were inherently newsworthy and protected by the Constitution's First Amendment.
Davis ruled in March that Fox could not use those arguments, finding its coverage was false, defamatory, and not protected by the First Amendment.
Published under: Fox News