Fox to pay $787.5 million to settle Dominion defamation suit
On the eve of the trial, Dominion publicly released reams of internal communications between Fox executives, hosts and producers, revealing how the country’s most-watched cable news network embarked on a strategy to win back its leadership under President Trump. Audience members who quit after stepping down. loss. The messages tell the story of a frenzied scramble within Fox as it begins to lose viewer share to rivals such as Newsmax, which are more willing to report and endorse false claims about a conspiracy involving the Dominion machine to steal the election from Mr. Trump.
Producers called pro-Trump guests like Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani ratings “gold” and admitted viewers didn’t want to hear it to topics such as the possibility of a peaceful transition from a Trump administration to a Biden administration.
Those communications have shown how employees at Fox expressed serious doubts about and, at times, were scornful of Mr. Trump and his allies as they spread lies about voter fraud, questioning the legitimacy of Mr. Biden’s election. Mr Pu and his lawyer were “crazy” and under the influence of drugs such as LSD and magic mushrooms.
Some Fox hosts privately called their colleagues “reckless” in backing Mr Trump’s false claims, admitting there was “no evidence” to support them. For weeks, however, Fox continued to provide a platform for election deniers, even as their credibility was questioned. Dominion disputed statements made by multiple shows on multiple nights. Often, defamation cases involve only one statement at issue.
The trial will be a spectacle. Mr Murdoch, whose family controls the Fox media empire, will be one of the first sightings of Dominion this week. Celebrity anchors including Sean Hannity, Mr Carlson and Ms Bartiromo may be called at other times.
Even the most blockbuster media trials of the past generation—Ariel Sharon’s lawsuit against Time and General William C. Westmoreland’s lawsuit against CBS— Both took place in the 1980s—both lack the most explosive element of the case, which raises major questions about First Amendment protections—providing the media and whether one of the most influential forces in conservative politics must pay for amplifying misinformation .
Both cases were also settled out of court.
In recent days, Fox has challenged Dominion’s claim for damages. On Monday, it disputed Dominion’s value, noting that the company lowered some of its damages claim in a recent legal filing. Lawyers for Fox also questioned Dominion’s injuries, saying the company acknowledged it had turned a profit in recent years.