Dominion, Fox Reach $787 Million Settlement Over Election Claims

Tuesday, Fox News agreed to pay Dominion Voting Systems almost $800 million to avoid a voting machine company’s lawsuit. The lawsuit was expected to expose how the network promoted lies about the presidential election in 2020. 

The surprising settlement occurred just as opening statements were to begin and abruptly ended a case that dragged on for several months and raised the possibility that the founder of the network, Rupert Murdoch, and hosts, including Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, would have to testify publicly. 

“The truth matters. Lies have consequences,” said Dominion lawyer Justin Nelson outside a Delaware courthouse, shortly following Superior Court Judge Eric Davis’s announcement of the deal. 

Besides the $787.5 million promised to Dominion, it remained unclear if Fox would face further consequences. The company acknowledged in a statement “the court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false” but offered no apology. 

“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,” said Fox. The company’s representatives and lawyers gave no other details or comments about the settlement. 

The deal is significant because of the large dollar amount, even for a cable giant like Fox. The amount represents around one-quarter of the $2.96 billion the company reported as earnings last year, before taxes, amortization, depreciation, and interest. The figure is often used to estimate a company’s cash flow. 

Dominion had sued Fox News for a higher figure

Dominion had sued Fox for $1.6 billion and argued the top-rated news outlet damaged the company’s reputation by pushing conspiracy theories that claimed its equipment switched votes from former GOP President Donald Trump to Democrat Joe Biden. In an earlier ruling, Davis said it was “CRYSTAL clear” that the allegations about Dominion aired on Fox were untrue. 

The voting system company set out to prove in its lawsuit that the news company acted maliciously when it aired allegations that it knew were false or with “reckless disregard” for the truth. Dominion presented several text messages and internal emails showing Fox personalities and executives saying they knew the allegations were untrue. 

During a deposition, Murdoch testified he believed the 2020 election had not been stolen from Trump and was fair. 

“Fox knew the truth,” argued Dominion in court papers. “It knew the allegations against Dominion were ‘outlandish’ and ‘crazy’ and ‘ludicrous’ and ‘nuts.’ Yet it used the power and influence of its platform to promote that false story.”

Several experts on the First Amendment said Dominion’s case was among the strongest that had been seen. However, there was doubt if Dominion could convince a jury that decision-makers at Fox could be held responsible for the network’s actions. 

Dominion’s lawyer, Nelson, said the settlement was “a tremendous victory” and noted six additional lawsuits are pending concerning election claims. 

“We settled because it was about accountability,” said Nelson in an interview. “Our goals were to make sure that there was accountability for the lies and to try to make our client right. And we accomplished both goals.”