Fox News has no plans to change at all after the Dominion defamation case settlement.
Last week, during a Fox earnings call, Lachlan Murdoch praised his “news” network, saying, “at Fox News media, we retained our leadership position amongst our peers. The Fox News Channel ended the third quarter as the most watched cable network in total day in prime time while maintaining its lead as the most watched cable news network beating CNN and MSNBC combined.”
Murdoch said about the $787.5 million settlement with Dominion:
MURDOCH: We made the business decision to resolve this dispute and avoid the acrimony of a divisive trial and a multi-year appeal process. A decision clearly in the best interest of the company and its shareholders. The settlement in no way alters Fox’s commitment to the highest journalistic standards across our company or our passion for unabashedly reporting the news of the day. We’re proud of our Fox News team, the exceptional quality of their journalism, and their stewardship of the Fox News brand.
Murdoch said the similar, pending defamation case brought by Smartmatic is “fundamentally different” from the Dominion case “in that all of our full complement of First Amendment defenses remain and we’ll be ready to defend this case.”
The Smartmatic case may be different but probably not in the way Lachlan Murdoch said. For one thing, the damages claim is almost twice that of Dominion, $2.7 billion. But more importantly, Smartmatic has an even stronger case, according to attorney Lisa Needham.
Smartmatic’s attorney has said any settlement would have to be higher than Dominion’s and, unlike Dominion, must include a full retraction.
Whether that actually happens remains to be seen.
MURDOCH: As regards to our programming strategy in primetime, there’s no change to our programming strategy at Fox News. It’s obviously a successful strategy, and as always, you know, we are adjusting our programming and our line up and that’s what we, you know, continue to do. We are pleased with the strength of the advertising demand throughout our schedule, but particularly primetime.
Fox News ratings have dropped 50% in the two weeks since Tucker Carlson was fired. Viewers in the preferred demographic of 25-54 shrank by two thirds.
You can listen to Murdoch’s comments below, from his May 9, 2023 earnings call, via Media Matters.
There is something odd about Fox’s statement that, “The settlement in no way alters Fox’s commitment to the highest journalistic standards”. It’s hardly something to brag about that an event did not reduce Fox’s already feeble commitment. That the settlement did not increase their commitment (or move them to improve their execution ) suggests that they learned nothing because in their minds, they did nothing wrong. I hope the Smartmatic suit takes this into account.