Speed Reads

Speed Reads

Fox News settles defamation case with Dominion Voting Systems in last minute decision

Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems on Tuesday reached a settlement over claims that the conservative cable news juggernaut defamed the election infrastructure company by broadcasting allegations that the 2020 presidential election had been "stolen" from former President Donald Trump, despite knowing internally that those statements were wholly untrue. Rather than continuing with what would have been a likely sensational trial for a requested $1.6 billion in damages, Dominion attorneys announced outside the Delaware courthouse that they had settled for $787.5 million, hailing the agreement as a "ringing endorsement for truth and for democracy" and saying that the "money is accountability."

"We acknowledge the Court's rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false," Fox said in a brief statement following the surprise announcement by presiding Judge Eric Davis that "the parties have resolved the case." The network said the settlement "reflects FOX's continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards."

The settlement came just after jurors for the trial had been seated in the court, and attorneys for both Fox and Dominion were poised to make their opening statements. Instead, after an unexplained delay, Davis announced the settlement, dismissed the assembled jurors, and praised both parties' legal teams, telling them "I would be proud to be your judge in the future." The plaudits came in sharp contrast with the judge's earlier criticism against the Fox News legal team which he claimed had made "misrepresentations to the court" over certain details of the case. 

The settlement of Dominion's suit marks the closure of just one of Fox's many legal hurdles stemming from its 2020 election coverage. A separate voting machine company, Smartmatic, is also suing the network, announcing on Tuesday that "Dominion's litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox's disinformation campaign. Smartmatic will expose the rest." Multiple members of the Fox Corp. board have also been sued by a shareholder who alleges that the network's 2020 coverage "exposed the Company to public ridicule and negatively impacted the credibility of Fox News as a media organization that is supposed to accurately report newsworthy events" thereby driving down its value. 

Although Dominion has settled with Fox News itself, attorney Stephen Shackelford suggested that further lawsuits were coming against individuals responsible for their specific damages against the company, saying "we are not done yet. We have some other people who have some accountability coming toward them."