How much did Fox News have to pay Dominion to settle the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit?
The Dominion Voting Systems vs Fox News trial began on Tuesday but was quickly prevented from being a drawn out affair.
The trial in the Dominion Voting Systems vs Fox News lawsuit got underway on Tuesday 18 April but almost as soon as it started, it was over. The hearing was to look into whether the news company was financially liable for airing and promoting the false claim that the company’s voting machines rigged the 2020 election, where Joe Biden beat Donald Trump, but the Rupert Murdoch organisation chose to settle.
The case went to trial after a judge rejected Fox News’ attempt to have Dominion’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit dismissed.
Pre-trial ruling on Dominion vs Fox News
Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis ruled that none of the network’s statements against Dominion were true. The voting machine company therefore no longer had to try to disprove in front of the jury the broadcast giant’s claims that they rigged the presidential election in favour of Joe Biden. According to Dominion, Fox broadcast baseless conspiracy theories that they were linked to the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. The company claimed that the TV network’s allegations hurt their reputation.
Fox News claimed that the issue at hand was the First Amendment’s protection of the media’s right to cover the news. They said they are fighting for press freedom, and denied that the reputation of Dominion was damaged. Fox also said the comments they aired were classified as opinion and were therefore protected, but Davis disagreed. The judge also debunked the company’s claim that they practiced neutral reporting. Jurors were to be told that the claims against Dominion were false.
What the jury was to determine in the trial was whether Fox News and its parent company Fox Corp., acted with malice in reporting false claims, and whether the company deserved to receive damages. In the end, we’ll not get a chance to hear all the evidence and get that verdict.
How much did Fox News pay Dominion?
For many, the Dominion vs Fox News case could have had a wide impact on the consequences of future broadcast coverage which airs falsehoods and conspiracy theories. A win for Dominion could have result in multiple copycat suits against news outlets, while a victory by Fox would encourage other media companies to publish or broadcast lies and conspiracy theories as news.
According to a lawyer for Dominion, the settlement of $787.5 million (that’s more than a three quarters of a billion dollars!) comes in just shy of 50% of the original suit and the 11th hour decision from Fox means that a lot of potential embarrassing revelations about the right wing news outlet will not be aired. In a statement, Fox News accepted that some of its reporting was inaccurate.
“We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false... We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute... allows the country to move forward from these issues.”