Dominion Voting Systems and Fox Corporation may have settled their lawsuit out of court, but nothing Fox does will erase what we’ve learned about it along the way.
After a months-long legal battle, Dominion and Fox settled for $787.5 million, in what was originally a $1.6 billion defamation suit. The decision was anticlimactic at best, as people had geared up for an unprecedented trial process.
Technically, per the American Bar Association, “a settlement doesn’t usually state that anyone was right or wrong in the case.” So even though Fox paid up, they aren’t officially admitting wrongdoing. But as Senator Mitt Romney told HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic, “Clearly you don’t agree to pay someone three-quarters of a billion dollars unless you think there’s a real risk you’re going to lose.”
And all that money won’t take back what Dominion has already revealed about Fox. Court documents show that Fox News hosts and executives never believed the conspiracy theories about the 2020 election that they were spreading.
Text messages and deposition excerpts show that hosts, including Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, knew the election conspiracies were false and that Donald Trump’s lawyers weren’t credible, but they spread the conspiracies and invited the lawyers on air anyway. Carlson, who has repeatedly fawned over Trump on his show, even texted someone he was looking forward to ignoring Trump. “I hate him passionately,” Carlson said of the former president.
Fox owner Rupert Murdoch admitted under oath that he knew his media organization was spreading lies, but he continued to let hosts spout falsehoods and have Trump team members on as guests. A Fox News producer sued the company, alleging executives let the lies stand because they were good for business and coerced her into giving misleading testimony in the Dominion lawsuit.
But in a statement released after the decision was made to settle, Fox said they “acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false.” Fox only admitted that some of the things they said about Dominion were false, but recall that the court already ruled that everything they said about Dominion was false.
“The evidence developed in this civil proceeding demonstrates that [it] is CRYSTAL clear that none of the Statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true,” a judge wrote in a decision last month, allowing the case to proceed to trial.
Fox, for its part, has made no mention of making an on-air retraction or apology about the Dominion falsehoods.
“Fox is about to burn brighter and hotter,” warned Media Matters president Angelo Carusone.
“Fox didn’t just get away with murder; they basically got a license to kill,” he said. “Unless we cut off their inflated guaranteed revenue from their wildly overpriced cable carriage fees, Fox is gonna use the license.”