Why did Dominion Voting decide to settle with Fox News?
Dominion has decided to settle with Fox News after accusations that the network’s hosts knowingly perpetrated lies. Why did they decide to settle?
For many, the question at the top of their minds after hearing the news that the voting machine manufacturer, Dominion, had settled its lawsuit with Fox News was: why didn’t the company take the case to trial?
Dominion sued Fox News for knowingly perpetuating lies that their voting machines were one way that Democrats “stole” the 2020 presidential election from Donald Trump. During the discovery period of the case, the company obtained messages that showed that some of the network’s hosts were aware that the statements they were making were false but continued to peddle them anyways. The company claimed that the network “provided a platform for guests that [...] knew would make false and defamatory statements of fact on the air” and that the hosts would “affirmed, endorsed, repeated, and agreed with those guests’ statements” knowing they were false.
Fox News has agreed to pay Dominion, valued at around $40 million, $787.5 million to avoid a trial that could have forced many of the network’s hosts to testify that they did in fact defame the company. But why would Dominion settle when just the initial findings from their subpoena uncovered so much damaging information?
The damage of a possible trial for Fox News
While Dominion had to agree to settle, the fact that the case will not go to trial is a major win for Fox —even if it has a hefty price tag.
The statement released by Fox includes an admission that “the court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false.”
“This settlement reflects Fox’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards,” read the statement released by Fox. The network added that they were “hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial, allows the country to move forward from these issues.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper was quick to attack the response from Fox News after the settlement was announced, saying that the network was “trying to put a positive spin on what can only be interpreted as one of the most ugly and embarrassing moments in the history of journalism.”
More legal trouble could be coming for Fox News...
The settlement totaling several times the value of Dominion is one indicator that the network had no interest in going to trial and was willing to pay a very high amount to avoid such an outcome.
Quickly after the settlement was announced, another voting machine manufacturer, Smartmatic, which is suing Fox News for $2.7 billion, said that “Dominion’s litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign. Smartmatic will expose the rest.” With another lawsuit on the horizon, a trial could have exposed more incriminating information that could then be used by other companies like Smartmatic. If a larger payout to Dominion can save them from a larger payout to Smartmatic, a cut cost-benefit analysis may have moved Fox to offer a larger settlement.
Dominion’s CEO John Poulos described the agreement as “historic,” and while pleased that the network admitted to telling lies about his company, the “enormous damage” cannot be undone.