Patterico's Pontifications

4/18/2023

Fox News-Dominion Case: Settlement Reached

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:53 pm



[guest post by Dana]

This afternoon:

Dominion Voting Systems, in a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit, accused Fox News of knowingly pushing false conspiracy theories that the voting machine company rigged the 2020 presidential election in Joe Biden’s favor, in what Dominion claims was an effort to combat concerns over declining ratings and viewer retention. Fox defended its coverage, dismissing the suit as a “political crusade in search of a financial windfall.”

“Truth matters. Lies have consequences,” said Justin Nelson, an attorney for Dominion Voting Systems, as he announced details of the company’s settlement with Fox News during a press conference following the court’s adjournment.

“Today’s settlement of $787,500,000 represents vindication and accountability,” Nelson said. “Today represents a ringing endorsement for truth and for democracy.”

And pushing the company lie, uh, line, but I repeat myself, are Fox News officials:

We are pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute with Dominion Voting Systems,” Fox News officials said in a statement after an agreement had been reached. “We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. This settlement reflects FOX’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.”

“We are 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,” the statement said.

It’s unfortunate that Fox News’ on-air and management hypocrites and liars will not have to testify, but regardless, what a settlement for Dominion Voting Systems.

I think we can be assured that no on-air personalities will be shuffled to another time slot, or even be let go as a result of this suit. After all, it didn’t impact the popular pundits when Rupert Murdoch confirmed under oath that he knew that Carlson, Ingraham, Hannity, Pirro, and Baritromo endorsed 2020 election fraud conspiracies. This is their business model. But still, $787,500,000 isn’t chump change either.

Overnight thoughts: It’s remarkable, in retrospect, that the Fox propaganda machine happily promoted the election fraud rantings of an obviously unhinged liar. Yet they did so because that’s what viewers demanded and that’s what pumped the ratings. And while that poor decision-making is now costing them an extraordinary sum of money, Fox News will continue to sell its soul to promote Donald Trump in the next presidential election. Nothing has changed fundamentally in their mindset or business practices, be they the Murdochs, management, or on-air personalities. If it had, there would have been an apology, not compelled by the court but by the Murdochs’ um, better angels… It was telling that no public apology was ever made. And while it’s an extraordinary settlement, the problem has been dealt with, and it will be business as usual: Fox News will do whatever it takes to keep the ratings pumped. As always. I think it will be all Trump, all the time if that’s what the viewers demand. And any bad news about him will be flat-out ignored, or spun into something more palatable. Even now, consider how Fox News has reported on the settlement news:

Fox News media reporter Howard Kurtz reported the settlement during the 4 pm hour but claimed he did not know the settlement amount.

“A Dominion lawyer gave reporters a dollar figure for the settlement, but I have not been able to independently confirm that,” Kurtz said.

Daily Beast media reporter Justin Baragona reported that Fox News host Neil Cavuto did mention the settlement amount, citing the Wall Street Journal, another outlet owned by Rupert Murdoch.

“Really stands out that the in-house media reporter just refused to tell Fox audiences the hefty settlement figure,” Baragona tweeted.

Top Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity likewise did not reference the settlement at all during their broadcasts, according to Reuters. And Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake noted that “the Fox News website’s story on the Dominion settlement is only 161 words long.”

“It makes no mention of the dollar amount and little mention of the substance, which it summarizes as involving ‘coverage of the post-2020 presidential election,'” he wrote.

Next up for Fox: A $2.7 billion lawsuit from Smartmatic USA.

“Smartmatic now has a bargaining chip, and Fox has shown it is willing to take out its checkbook and write a big check,” said University of Tennessee, Knoxville media law professor Stuart Brotman. “From Fox’s standpoint, now that they realize they can get a successful settlement, they have a basis for a real discussion with Smartmatic.”

-Dana

40 Responses to “Fox News-Dominion Case: Settlement Reached”

  1. Hello.

    Dana (560c99)

  2. dupert morlach settles leaves election deniers out in street!

    asset (a1b689)

  3. Sad! What do I do with my bushels of popcorn?

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  4. When I served on jury in a criminal trial in Los Angeles, we all sat quietly in the jury room for about an hour, and we got back into the courtroom, the defendant and his lawyer had gone, and the deputy DA was packing up his papers. He told us that the defendant took one look at us and plea bargained. We offered to the DDA our services to scare other defendants into plea deals. 😊.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  5. This is their business model. But still, $787,500,000 isn’t chump change either.

    Still, it’s a BM that works; from Investopedia:

    The World’s Top Media Companies

    Ranked 10: Fox (FOX): $21.06 Billion

    https://www.investopedia.com/stock-analysis/021815/worlds-top-ten-media-companies-dis-cmcsa-fox.aspx

    DCSCA (e0fe1d)

  6. Rupert Murdoch confirmed under oath that he knew that Carlson, Ingraham, Hannity, Pirro, and Baritromo endorsed 2020 election fraud conspiracies.

    Did he say they endorsed them?

    Fox’s position was that t was hearing what they had to say.

    The problem wasn’t that Fox endorsed election fraud claims, it was that they didn’t argue enough with the guests.

    This avoids setting a precedent, I assume.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  7. Maria Baritromo, I understand, went the furthest in accepting claims, Fox is considered responsible for everything.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  8. Here:

    Asked by a Dominion attorney whether “Fox endorsed at times this false notion of a stolen election,” Murdoch demurred, saying, “Not Fox, no. Not Fox. But maybe Lou Dobbs, maybe Maria [Bartiromo] as commentators.”

    The lawyer pressed on. Did Fox’s Bartiromo endorse it?

    Murdoch’s reply: “Yes. C’mon.”

    Fox News host Jeanine Pirro? “I think so.”

    Then-Fox Business Network host Dobbs? “Oh, a lot.”

    Fox News prime-time star Sean Hannity? “A bit.”

    Pressed whether they endorsed the narrative of a stolen election, Murdoch finally gave in: “Yes. They endorsed.”

    Dana (560c99)

  9. Maybe you can eat popcorn while watching this:

    https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2023/04/18/jake-tapper-dominion-lawsuit-settlement-fox-news-statement-lead-vpx.cnn

    Dominion hinted it may sue others.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  10. Dana (560c99) — 4/18/2023 @ 2:42 pm

    Pressed whether they endorsed the narrative of a stolen election, Murdoch finally gave in: “Yes. They endorsed.”

    The more general narrative of a stolen election, but not so much one involving Dominion.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  11. It’s a lot less then the Alex Jones verdict. But unlike Jones Fox will likely pay.

    Pretty good outcome for people who care about the truth.

    Time123 (8e2273)

  12. If Fox admits its whole approach to covering the Trump-backed election claims was wrong.

    It treated all allegations extremely seriously. It did not explain why many claims had to be wrong.

    Otherwise al Fox learns is that it should be careful about casually talking about likely false derogatory claims about a real national company.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  13. It would have been kind of Dominion to have included Smartmatic in its settlement talks but this probably didn’t happen.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  14. It’s about time I unsubscribed to YouTube TV, which carries all the usual cable channels, including Fox News.

    Oh wait, I already did.

    There’s enough on HBO Max to watch until the next college football season.

    norcal (15fce4)

  15. Fox couldn’t fire people until this suit was over. Now, maybe they will as they surely don’t want to shell out the better part of a billion dollars again.

    Their brand is now sewer-dweller fare. You would think they might want to change that. Then again, maybe their advertisers like selling to morons.

    Kevin M (f94f4f)

  16. It’s about time I unsubscribed to YouTube TV, which carries all the usual cable channels, including Fox News.

    There are other channels on YTTV

    Kevin M (f94f4f)

  17. Murdoch needn’t close his checkbook, because Smartmatic is next.

    Dana, I would’ve bolded the part below, because it’s an admission that they lied, and it means their following sentence, the one with “highest journalistic standards”, to also be a lie:

    “We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false.”

    Paul Montagu (8f0dc7)

  18. I wonder what scared Murdoch more, losing the case or having one FoxNews personality after the next testify under oath that they followed Trump’s orders and lied about Dominion and “massive fraud” and that the election was “stolen”. The depositions were bad enough, but court testimony in front of a jury is forever.

    Paul Montagu (8f0dc7)

  19. It only gets worse (or better, depending on your point of view) for Fox:

    ……..
    Investors are using provisions in Delaware corporate law to demand internal Fox records to investigate how Fox’s leaders acted as its Fox News network aired segments on Trump’s false claims that he lost the 2020 presidential election due to voter fraud, two sources confirmed.

    In moves not previously reported, shareholders are looking for records such as board minutes, emails and texts that may contain evidence that Fox directors and executives were derelict by allowing the network to air the false claims.

    The shareholders could use these as well as evidence presented in other lawsuits to build a case for the leaders to be held personally liable for costs from two defamation cases by voting-machine companies over the Fox coverage.
    ………

    Previously posted on the open thread.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  20. I wonder what scared Murdoch more, losing the case or having one FoxNews personality after the next testify under oath……

    Or being forced to testify himself.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  21. @19: such fun

    Kevin M (f94f4f)

  22. There are other channels on YTTV

    Kevin M (f94f4f) — 4/18/2023 @ 3:48 pm

    I know, but there isn’t much to like on them. HBO Max has many quality shows in addition to Bill Maher, who has become much more reasonable over the years.

    When I had YTTV, I mostly watched college football, Dateline, and Turner Classic Movies. College football is gone for 4.5 months. HBO Max has plenty of true crime shows, and a selection of classic movies.

    Plus, YTTV just jacked their price to $72 a month.

    If my recent cancellation is construed to be a protest against Fox propaganda, so much the better. Besides, now I have a ready answer for my friend the Tuckerite.

    I may resubscribe come September, or I might go to Dish. I dislike giving my money to the lefty behemoth that is Google.

    norcal (15fce4)

  23. https://www.statista.com/statistics/373814/cable-news-network-viewership-usa/

    Fox/NewsCorp is laughing all the way to the bank.

    DCSCA (ce291a)

  24. @23 fox will have to sell a lot of my pillows.

    asset (a4ab0a)

  25. In my area (King County outside Seattle), you can get a library card and check out movies from the county’s very extensive collection. For free.

    Jim Miller (0e46f9)

  26. #18 Paul – I was expecting a settlement before the witnesses got on the stand and had to admit, one after another, that they lied. Great TV. As Murdoch would know.

    In general, however, I think one should avoid watching TV news, if you want to be well-informed. And it is not just a matter of bias. The data rate is simply too low. As I recall, there is about 20 minutes of actual news in a half hour program – and that 20 minutes would cover less than a full page of a good newspaper. (If, in a half hour, you can’t read more than one page of a newspaper, you need to work on your reading.)

    Jim Miller (0e46f9)

  27. I’ve just added some thoughts to the post that I had last night about the settlement news.

    Dana (560c99)

  28. fox will have to sell a lot of my pillows.

    Considering who is watching Fox, they could probably sell anything. Pan flute recordings for example.

    Kevin M (f94f4f)

  29. I subscribe to YTTV for sports, local news and other current events. TV shows and movies I find elsewhere, such as Netflix. I also subscribe to MLB.

    Kevin M (f94f4f)

  30. Fox is now like a Brinks truck overturned on the highway.

    Kevin M (f94f4f)

  31. I think that Fox would have no legal problem firing several anchors for cause. They would probably take their sewer with them, though. One America News is hiring.

    Kevin M (f94f4f)

  32. Wanted Dead or Alive, you know, the TV western with Steve McQueen and the funny gun, averaged 28 million viewers in 1958.

    What does Fox News average? The answer will surprise you!

    Plus a picture of a kitten.

    nk (48a779)

  33. Here is the problem. Trump drives ratings. So Fox has to have im on, cater to him and his friends, because the audience demands this. And the $$ from doing that is more than what they may pay out in lawsuits filed well after the fact.

    This is not a unique problem to Fox — the New York Times falls to the woke mobs because their readers want to be told that all Republicans are evil and the wokesters are good.

    There’s nothing wrong with news being biased — because it is always going to have a slant. The ideal, though, is that the news services tell what they see as truth, and leave pandering to the mobs to politicians. What happened at Fox is only going to encourage the demagogues of the future.

    Appalled (ed04c7)

  34. Rip Murdock (d2a2a8) — 4/18/2023 @ 5:56 pm

    Or being forced to testify himself.

    Rupert Murdoch was going to be one off the first witnesses called by Dominion this week.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/18/business/media/fox-dominion-defamation-settle.html

    The trial would have been a spectacle. Mr. Murdoch, whose family controls the Fox media empire, was slated to be one of Dominion’s first witnesses this week. Star anchors including Sean Hannity, Mr. Carlson and Ms. Bartiromo were likely to be called at other points.

    Fox avoided making any kind of an on-air apology or acknowledgement – and it only said that some of the allegations it aired were false.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  35. This explains what the judge said about news coverage. Fix had argued it news coverage.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/18/technology/fox-news-dominion-settlement.html

    The settlement carries an implicit plea of “no contest” to several pretrial findings from the presiding judge in the case, Eric M. Davis, that cast Fox’s programming in exceptionally harsh light.

    In one of those findings, the judge sided with Dominion in its assertion that Fox could not claim that its airing of the conspiracy theory — generally relating to the false claim that its machines “switched” Trump votes into Biden votes — fell under a legally protected status of “news gathering” that can shield news organizations when facts are disputed. The judge wrote, “the evidence does not support that FNN conducted good-faith, disinterested reporting.”

    I don’t think Fox’s defense has to rest on the claim that it was disinterested, but rather on that it was not promoting lies. (which may not be the case)

    Excluding that from comsideration provides grounds for appeal I would think.

    More:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/18/opinion/fox-news-dominion-settlement.html

    “To defend this case, Fox witnesses must be able to testify about the reasons why Fox covered the allegations on the air,” said the filing. “Fox witnesses will all testify that they covered the Dominion-related allegations because the allegations were part of the most newsworthy story of the day.” This, even though Davis had specifically ruled that this argument was invalid because, among other things, “the evidence does not support” the contention that Fox “conducted good-faith, disinterested reporting.”

    In order to defend Fox from a finding of actual malice, its lawyers seemed set on bringing Fox’s alternative reality into the courtroom, acting as if taking Trump and his attorneys at their word was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Testimony and documentary evidence, Fox’s lawyers said in the filing, “will show that the president and the lawyers bringing the election fraud lawsuits continuously told Fox that they had evidence to support their claims and that they would be presenting that evidence to courts.” That, in turn, explains why the Fox hosts “did not know that the president’s allegations were false or harbor serious doubts about the truth of the allegations.”

    [No, wait a second, they did. But they might possibly have believed there was an outside chance they might have something to back up their claims. There seems to be some indications that Fox broadcast people were surprised a how flimsy and unbacked up the claims turned out to be – that’s why they wrote some text messages or emails after the broadcasts]

    In other words, they can’t be blamed for treating the president of the United States as a reliable source.

    The question is: Did they?

    And does allowing them to go on the air constitute by itself a reckless disregard for the truth?

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  36. Murdoch did, after all, tell his people to treat what Giuliani said with a grain of salt.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/06/magazine/fox-dominion-jan-6.html

    ….With Sidney Powell, the right-wing attorney and conspiracy theorist, at his side, Giuliani, sweating profusely, black hair dye dripping down the side of his face, spun a wild fantasy about Joe Biden’s stealing the election from President Donald J. Trump. Dizzying in its delusional complexity, it centered on a supposed plot by the Clinton Foundation, George Soros and associates of Hugo Chávez to convert Trump votes into Biden votes by way of software from Smartmatic and voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems….Trump and his supporters were already furious at Fox News for being the first network to call Biden the victor in Arizona, and two newer cable networks were offering them a version of reality more fully on Trump’s terms. One of them, Newsmax, was moving up in the ratings while refusing to call Biden the winner. When Murdoch’s own paper, The Wall Street Journal, reported a few days before Giuliani’s news conference that Trump allies were considering pouring money into Newsmax to help it mount a stiffer challenge to Fox, Murdoch alerted Scott to the piece. Fox would have to play this just right, he said in an email. Take Giuliani with “a large grain of salt,” he wrote, but also be careful not to “antagonize Trump further.”

    Giuliani eventually dropped Sidney Powell because she was not giving him any evidence.

    On the other hand I think Fox probably forced an employee to delete a tweet that disputed claim.

    They told people to respect the audience, but a Fox executive told a writer for the New York Times that meant not to sneer at them.

    The network’s coverage of the Giuliani news conference showed just how impossible this balancing act would be. Immediately afterward, a Fox News White House correspondent, Kristin Fisher, went to the network’s camera position outside the West Wing and fact-checked the allegations. “So much of what he said was simply not true,” she told Fox viewers. Giuliani, she said, provided no hard proof for a claim that “really cuts to the core of our democratic process.” Fox’s opinion hosts, who had been broadcasting the Giuliani-Powell Dominion fantasies to varying degrees themselves — some appearing to endorse them outright — had been complaining internally that the news division’s debunking efforts were alienating the core audience. An executive at the Fox Corporation, the network’s parent company, had recently started a brand protection effort to, among other tasks, “defend the brand in real time.” After Fisher’s segment, the group sent an alert to top news executives. In a follow-up email, Scott vented to a deputy. “I can’t keep defending these reporters who don’t understand our viewers and how to handle stories,” she wrote. “We have damaged their trust and belief in us.” One of Fisher’s bosses told her that she needed to do a better job of “respecting our audience,” and Fisher later complained of feeling sidelined…

    …..Emails and texts turned over during discovery show that Scott and Wallace, and so many others at the network, had been informed it was all false. Dominion representatives and then lawyers were pelting the network with fact-checks and finally legal warnings. “Lies,” a Dominion representative, Tony Fratto, wrote to Wallace at one point. Yet the network seemed trapped by the viewer expectations it helped set; attempts to address the preposterousness of the whole conspiracy theory would draw blowback and new attacks from rivals. In late November, Tucker Carlson gave it a shot, telling his audience that Powell was failing to provide any evidence for her conspiracy theory. Even then, he qualified it: “It doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” he said. “It might have happened.” And he still took a hammering online.

    If they didn’t want it from Carlson — who was at the same time seeding other false notions about voter fraud — they certainly didn’t want it from the news correspondents, who were not. It was then that Fox’s journalists began hearing about “respect” for the audience. What the journalists didn’t understand was that in all the news-side election calling and debunking, “the audience feels like we crapped on them,” Scott explained to her deputy. They were going to have to rebuild trust.

    An executive at Fox News, who would speak about the court proceedings only on the condition of anonymity, said that showing “respect” did not mean relinquishing the job of debunking the false reports. In the executive’s view, those who were drawing Scott’s ire were being unduly “snarky” in doing so and appeared to be “talking down to” viewers and “even rolling their eyes.”

    But for all the executives’ venting about a lack of “respect” among Fox journalists, what is not apparent in the emails is any dressing down of those on the staff who were spreading the falsehoods. There is certainly no obvious concern about what the anger that was stemming from the belief in those falsehoods might lead to. As a producer texted to Bartiromo in late November: “To be honest, our audience doesn’t want to hear about a peaceful transition. They still have hope.”

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  37. Two things I’m reading: Fox is planning on deducting the settlement expense and that Dominion was planning on calling Rupert Murdoch as the second witness if it had gone to trial.

    On either point, no wonder they settled.

    Dana (560c99)

  38. Yesterday, Inside Edition reported that Fox News made no mention of the lawsuit and settlement – or at least Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham said nothing about it.

    Which, I suppose is par for the course.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  39. https://www.newser.com/story/334274/lindell-ordered-to-pay-5m-to-guy-who-proved-him-wrong.html

    MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has been ordered to pay $5 million to somebody who proved him wrong in the “Prove Mike Wrong Challenge.” Lindell, one of the most fervent supporters of Donald Trump’s election conspiracy theories, issued the challenge at a “cyber symposium” he held in 2021, saying he had data proving China interfered with the election—and would pay $5 million to anybody who could prove it wasn’t from the 2020 election, Rolling Stone reports. Computer forensics expert Robert Zeidman took part in the challenge, applied to claim the prize, then filed for arbitration when Lindell’s company refused to pay up. The contest’s rules stated the disputes would be resolved by “final and binding arbitration.”

    The arbitration panel said Zeidman “performed under the contract” he signed to take part in the challenge, CNN reports. He proved that the data Lindell provided “unequivocally did not reflect November 2020 election data,” the panel said, and failure to pay the $5 million prize “was a breach of the contract, entitling him to recover.” Zeidman’s lawyers told the panel that the files Lindell provided at the symposium contained “no recognizable data in any known data format.” The panel said it was “not asked to decide whether China interfered in the 2020 election” or whether Lindell possessed the proof he claimed to have. “The focus of the decision is on the 11 files provided to Mr. Zeidman in the context of the Contest rules,” the panel wrote.

    Zeidman—a 63-year-old Trump voter from Nevada who describes himself as a “moderate conservative”—tells the Post he is “really happy” with the decision. “The truth is finally out there,” he says. Lindell was ordered to send Zeidman the $5 million within 30 days, though he doesn’t seem inclined to pay up. “They made a terribly wrong decision! This will be going to court!” he said in a text message to the Post. But his lawyers might be busy: Lindell is being sued for $1.3 billion by Dominion Voting Systems, which settled its defamation case against Fox this week for $787.5 million. (Read more Mike Lindell stories.)

    Challenges like this have been upheld before as binding contracts.

    Dominion is also suing Newsmax, OANN, Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11990417/Dominion-suing-six-defamation-including-Rudy-Giuliani-Newsmax-OANN.html

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  40. 37. There’s no reason Fox should not be able to deduct the entire cost of the settlement.

    Although I got the idea that maybe that depends on the fact that it is a settlement, which, by its nature, does not concede any actual wrongdoing.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)


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