The judge just announced it. Details remain to be seen. Developing.
I think we can safely assume Fox paid a load of money to Dominion. Although it will be interesting to find out how much, if we can, the big question is really what kind of apology the network will provide.
UPDATE 4:23 PM: The settlement is $787.5 million, as per MSNBC.
UPDATE: 4:26 PM: THE LAWYERS SAID NOTHING ABOUT AN APOLOGY OR RETRACTION.
The attorneys did not say anything about a Fox apology or retraction. pic.twitter.com/R5pEd1mB6A— Ted Johnson (@tedstew) April 18, 2023
Perhaps on second thought you might agree that you understated Fox’s statement as merely “mealy mouthed”. “REALLY mealy” would be more like it. The way I read it, Fox did not admit to (or, of course, apologize for) anything let alone to lying on the air. Here is the key sentence:
“We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false”.
On the basis of Fox’s statement, one is left to wonder if Fox acknowledges AND ACCEPTS the court’s full findings. Given that Fox viewers have been kept relatively in the dark about this lawsuit, it is noteworthy that the statement doesn’t address Fox’s relationship to the claims or what the claims even were.
Next is Smartmatic. Where they will have lawyers asking questions, like “Now why did you pay nearly a billion dollars to Dominion again?” So I know some are depressed, This isn’t over and we can forever label Fox, as the company that had to pay 750 million for their lies.
Granted, I’d have preferred an on-air mea culpa from various Fox personalities, but Dominion was clearly satisfied with what Fox begged to give them. And Fox had a lot more to lose here – they were looking at losing the 1.6 billion plus what could have been another 3-5 billion in damages. And as we’ve discussed here, while that would not have significantly damaged their overall worth, it would have been noticed. The Murdochs were faced with a choice here: Lose in court and lose a MASSIVE damages assessment and then spend the next 20 years appealing before finally having to pay the amount, all the while continuing the story of their constant recitation of falsehoods on the air. Or they could do what Dominion told them to do, pay nearly a billion dollars right now and make a public apology. After over a year of talking tough about this before they got to the courtroom, the Fox attorneys openly lost their nerve and began pleading with the Dominion attorneys to allow them to settle.
We should take a minute to remember that this is the second largest defamation payout result in US history. The largest one of course is the 1.5 billion dollars that angry Right Winger Alex Jones has been commanded to pay to the Sandy Hook families. And now, Fox comes in with a forced payment of 787.5 million. The difference between the two is that Jones will never be able to pay the 1.5 billion as he’s completely bankrupt now and will spend the rest of his life destitute. Fox on the other hand, will actually be paying the nearly 800 million post-haste. That’s not nothing. (And we shouldn’t forget how Fox was compelled to repeatedly pay settlements to the victims of disgraced predator Bill O’Reilly, who himself then had to pay 32 million dollars to settle the suit from Lis Wiehl for a “nonconsensual sexual relationship”…)
On top of that, we should remember how many times angry Right Wingers have tried to play the massive lawsuit game when they’ve been exposed for their malfeasances. For example, Mike Pence’s childish former spokesman has repeatedly launched 500 million dollar nuisance suits against whatever media companies have hurt his feelings. Most recently, he announced yet another 500 million dollar waste of time against Michael Cohen that will be tossed out court just like the others. Or there was the multiple 250 million dollar nuisance suits from Nicholas Sandmann when he didn’t like being called out for his vicious behavior at the National Mall, which resulted in a couple of pittance settlements of under 50K and the rest of the suits being tossed out of court. Or there was the 50 million dollar nuisance suit that Eric Bolling petulantly threatened to file against Yashar Ali in 2017 that curiously disappeared after Bolling was challenged Ali’s attorney and dared to go ahead and try it. None of these tantrums have worked for angry Right Wingers – simply because they weren’t based on anything other than Right Wingers feeling aggrieved and wanting someone to pay. But when actual defamation suits have been brought – such as this one and the ones against Alex Jones, they’ve resulted in fairly appropriate punishments for bad actors.
And we should remember that the Dominion suit is not the last word here. The Smartmatic suit is for 2.7 billion – nearly twice that of Dominion, and that hasn’t been scheduled for trial yet. Not to mention various sundry discrimination suits that Fox will almost certainly settle as quietly as they can.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this situation is that Fox has been publicly spotlit for its pattern of lies and propaganda, and for its obvious attempts to manipulate its viewers. And while Fox will try to play this off as nothing special, the reality is that no other media outlet has EVER been required to pay out nearly a billion dollars for the blatant lying that Fox did here. History will record this infamy, regardless of how angry Right Wingers try to spin it.
However, the Smartmatic case is still open. Ditto the shareholder case. So they’re not off the hook.
Plus, I will relish the humble crow the network will have to eat.
I also wonder if Smartmatic will be included and whether that case will settle soon, too.
I eagerly await the public, humble apology that Fox and the Murdochs will be required to issue to Dominion, and the inevitable leaking of how much money Fox had to pay to make this go away.
In all areas of this matter, Dominion has won the battle – they have come out stronger for refusing to back down to Fox, and they’ve established a strong public case for those who haven’t been following the materials on Fox about how and why it should never be seen as a legitimate journalism company.