Making sense of the Fox News-Dominion settlement

Why Dominion took the money, and what it means for Rupert Murdoch, journalism, and the U.S. body politic

A billboard blasting Fox News in New York
(Image credit: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Dominion Voting Systems' eagerly anticipated $1.6 billion defamation trial against Fox News ended Tuesday with a settlement. Right before lawyers for Fox and Dominion were scheduled to make opening statements to the already seated jury, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis announced that the parties had settled the case, the jury had been dismissed, and the trial was over before it began.

Dominion lawyer Justin Nelson announced shortly afterward that Fox had agreed to pay $787.5 million to avoid a trial. "The truth matters. Lies have consequences," he said. "Money is accountability," said Stephen Shackelford, a second Dominion lawyer, "and we got that today from Fox." The full terms of the settlement haven't been — and may never be — disclosed, but Fox News will evidently not have to read an apology or admission of wrongdoing on air.

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