From today’s New York Times:
In settling with Dominion Voting Systems, Fox News has avoided an excruciating, drawn-out trial in which its founding chief, Rupert Murdoch, its top managers and its biggest stars would have had to face hostile grilling on an embarrassing question: Why did they allow a virulent and defamatory conspiracy theory about the 2020 election to spread across the network when so many of them knew it to be false?
But the $787.5 million settlement agreement — among the largest defamation settlements in history — and Fox’s courthouse statement recognizing that the court had found “certain claims about Dominion” aired on its programming “to be false” at the very least amount to a rare, high-profile acknowledgment of informational wrongdoing by a powerhouse in conservative media and America’s most popular cable network.
“Money is accountability,” Stephen Shackelford, a Dominion lawyer, said outside the courthouse, “and we got that today from Fox.”
The terms of the agreement, which was abruptly announced just before lawyers were expected to make opening statements, did not require Fox to apologize for any wrongdoing in its own programming — a point that Dominion was said to have been pressing for.
Shortly after the agreement was reached, Fox said it was “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 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.”
In another finding, the judge wrote that the “evidence developed in this civil proceeding demonstrates that is CRYSTAL clear that none of the statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true.”
Read the complete story here.