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Fox News and Dominion Reach Settlement

Updated: Apr 28


Lawyers representing Dominion Voting Systems leave the courthouse. (Photo: Julio Cortez/Associated Press)

On April 18, Fox News reached a $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, marking the largest media settlement in history.

In 2021, Dominion had filed a $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox. The Colorado-based voting technology firm alleged that Fox News knowingly spread false information about the company's voting machines, including baseless claims that the machines were rigged to switch votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. The settlement is a significant victory for Dominion, which has also filed defamation lawsuits against other media outlets and individuals who spread false information about the company's voting machines.

During the two months leading up to the trial's intended date, a significant amount of evidence was accumulated, revealing that numerous Fox executives and on-air personalities were skeptical of the accusations presented on programs hosted by Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro. Their reluctance to challenge these claims was due to concerns about upsetting the audience of Trump supporters who watched the shows.

The two sides had previously attempted to reach a settlement in December, but Dominion did not want the case to end without publicizing the evidence it had gathered. Throughout February and March, a series of documents were released, essentially outlining Dominion’s case against Fox.

Proving libel can be difficult as it requires a jury to determine if journalists deliberately published untrue information or did so with a "reckless disregard" for the truth. However, Fox's chances of winning the case began to look increasingly slim due to the scope of evidence presented by Dominion and rulings made by Judge Eric Davis. Davis stated that the allegations against Dominion were undoubtedly false and that the defense of newsworthiness could not be used as a defense against defamation.

Both Dominion's attorney, Justin Nelson, and Fox's attorney, Dan Webb, began negotiations for a settlement before the trial, but they were far from reaching an agreement. They decided to contact a mediator, Jerry Roscoe, who was on a cruise with his wife between Budapest and Bucharest. Roscoe accepted the case and spent most of Monday reviewing the evidence. He was frequently on the phone while on the boat, primarily communicating with attorneys who were not Nelson or Webb. Meanwhile, Dominion CEO John Poulos was in a conference room at the courthouse, preparing for opening statements.

The agreement was finalized in Delaware before 3 p.m., or 10 p.m. on Roscoe's boat. The negotiations mainly involved financial aspects. Some critics of Fox were dissatisfied with the settlement, as they had hoped for a public trial where Fox personnel would be compelled to testify or apologize to Dominion on-air. Instead, Fox released a statement acknowledging Davis' findings that "certain claims about Dominion" were false. Fox further stated that the settlement exemplifies its ongoing commitment to the highest journalistic standards.

Fox’s historic payout to Dominion is an example that there are consequences to spreading false information, particularly when it comes to matters as important as the integrity of our electoral system. While it remains to be seen whether other media outlets and individuals will face similar lawsuits, the settlement serves as a warning that spreading false information can have serious legal and financial consequences.

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