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Fox News Pays a $787 Million 'Lying Tax' to Dominion Voting

By Dustin Rowles | TV | April 19, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | April 19, 2023 |


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To the disappointment of almost everyone outside of Fox News itself, the network settled its defamation suit against Dominion yesterday for $787.5 million, which is half of what Dominion was suing them for. Most everyone is calling it a “victory” for Fox News. For a company with a market cap of $17.3 billion and $4.1 billion in cash on hand, it is the cost of doing business. Settling lawsuits is nothing new to Rupert Murdoch, who has ponied up hundreds of millions of dollars to people and organizations that the company has wronged over the years. However, this settlement cost the network more than the $750 million it has paid out cumulatively in lawsuits over the last 13 years.

(It’s telling that I wouldn’t have known if the smiling lawyers coming out of the courtroom in the photo above were Dominion lawyers or Fox News lawyers if the pictures had not been labeled. (Those are Dominion lawyers)).

Fox News unfortunately is not going to go down because of lawsuits, even with the $2.7 billion lawsuit from another voting machine company, Smartmatic, pending. They have more money than Alex Jones. The only real hope that America has to destroy the rot at the center of our democracy are cord cutters. Fox News is still being propped up by the cable industry — the company could still be profitable without earning a dime from advertising because of the carriage fees it charges — so when the cable industry finally falters, so too may Fox News.

Or James Lachlan will kill it.

I don’t know how much of a win it is for the network, which will pay out the second-largest defamation settlement in American history (behind only Alex Jones) and will likely pay as much, or more, to Smartmatic. I don’t know how much of a win because I don’t know how much more we would have learned from the trial after everything we needed to know came out during discovery. It just would have been flashier and more drawn out. We already know from discovery that Fox News personalities knew they were peddling lies, that Rupert Murdoch personally thought his anchors were committing crimes, and that Tucker Carlson “hated” Trump. It didn’t hurt the network with its viewers before the trial. I doubt that the trial would have hurt them much, either, not with viewers who wanted to be lied to, which is how Fox News got into this situation in the first place. Also, you never know with juries: There is a universe where a jury would have found in favor of Fox News because there is every possibility that a Fox News viewer (or someone like them) was on that jury.

In either respect, Fox News was held accountable, but not accountable enough to hurt the long-term prospects of the network. “I think what we’re after was accountability. And I think it really showed today by paying more than three quarters of a billion dollars. Lies do have consequences,” Dominion’s lawyer noted.

Jimmy Kimmel, of all people, reflected the general sentiment outside of Fox News during last night’s show. “I also wanna say ‘nice going’ to Dominion. We naively thought this was about making Fox News take responsibility for destroying their reputation because that’s what they told us it was about. But no, they took the money instead — which means the liars who knowingly misled their oatmeal-brained viewers and seriously damaged our democracy don’t have to say anything about it at all … while Dominion and their lawyers go shopping for yachts, I guess.”

Jon Stewart, meanwhile, called the settlement a lying tax.

I’ll leave you with Jake Tapper, who could not keep a straight face when reading the statement from Fox News lawyers, “This settlement reflects Fox’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.”