Fox Settles With Dominion: There Was Gambling At Cafe Rick’s Casino
The nuts and graphs are here courtesy of the New York Times:
“The judge in the Fox News defamation case said on Tuesday that the case was resolved, abruptly ending a long-running dispute over misinformation in the 2020 election just as a highly anticipated trial was about to begin.
It was a last-minute end to a case that began two years ago and after the disclosure of hundreds of thousands of pages of documents that peeled back the curtain on a media company that has long resisted outside scrutiny. The settlement included a $787.5 million payment from Fox, according to Justin Nelson, a lawyer for Dominion.
“The truth matters. Lies have consequences,” he said outside the courthouse. “Over two years ago, a torrent of lies swept Dominion and election officials across America into an alternative universe of conspiracy theories causing grievous harm to Dominion and the country.”
Dominion had originally sought $1.6 billion in damages. Fox Corporation said in a statement that “we acknowledge the court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false.”
It added: “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.”
The agreement was reached a few hours after a jury in Wilmington, Del., was selected on Tuesday, just as opening statements were expected to begin. Lawyers for both sides had been preparing to make their cases to the jury, their microphones clipped to their jacket lapels.
The sudden settlement means no high-profile Fox figures — including those who privately expressed concerns about the veracity of claims being made on its shows — will have to testify. The expected witness list had included Fox executives, including Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox Corporation, and the hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Maria Bartiromo.
It was the latest extraordinary twist in a case that had promised to be one of the most consequential against a media organization in a generation.
The trial had been expected to be a major test of the First Amendment, raising questions about whether defamation law adequately protects victims of misinformation campaigns.
While the settlement avoids a lengthy trial, it still results in a rare instance of accountability for attempts to delegitimize President Biden’s victory. Few people or organizations have faced legal ramifications for claims related to electoral fraud that were brought by former President Donald J. Trump or his supporters.
Dominion sued Fox in early 2021, arguing that its reputation was badly damaged when Fox repeatedly aired falsehoods about its voting machines. Fox denied wrongdoing, saying that it had merely reported on newsworthy allegations that were coming from Mr. Trump and his lawyers and that it was protected in doing so by the First Amendment.
Judge Eric M. Davis had previously ruled that statements Fox had aired about Dominion were false, and functionally limited some of its potential defenses by deciding that its lawyers could not argue that it broadcast false information on the basis that the allegations were newsworthy.
At trial, a jury would have been tasked with answering the question of whether Fox had acted with “actual malice” — a legal standard meaning it had knowingly broadcast lies or had recklessly disregarded obvious evidence that the statements were untrue.”
Personally, I am shocked to find such gambling here in Ricks Cafe. Or not so much. Am feeling pretty good about my post yesterday morning.
I’ll leave it at that for now. Who could have known?
And for the inevitable dopes that will wander in to say “Ohhh, this was not enough!”, or “Ohhh there needed to be more admission and contrition!”, please stop. This was a fine and appropriate settlement. This case was NEVER about you and your politics, it was a jury trial case, which was NEVER going to be about you. Stop now.
There’s still the Smartmatic lawsuit. Also I assume the settlement is only between Dominion and Fox and does not include any individuals Dominion has sued such as Rudy Giuliani and Sydney Powell.
Yes to the first, and from statements from Dominion’s lawyers, the second also appears to be true.
To a point of both posts, if Dominion can walk away with at least 10 years’ earnings — and possibly more if there are settlements with individuals — to the benefit of their private-equity owners, and given that their brand is destroyed in any case, what on Earth would stop them? I would expect to see the whole firm dissolved as soon as they can manage it, perhaps to be absorbed by a competitor or to re-emerge as a “new” firm. And I can’t see them insisting on public mea culpas from Fox — why trade that for less money (and whom would it convince anyway)?
I do hope Smartmatic takes another sizeable bite out of Murdoch though.
Thank you for your insight into the choices Dominion has after this settlement. I’ll be curious as to the choices Fox News and Fox corporate make now post settlement.
Do you suppose they’ll do much anything different? Maybe have lawyers coach some of their “hosts” in being just circumspect enough to avoid embarrassing lawsuits in future? Apparently they’re not even admitting lying, only “acknowledging” the court’s findings.
They avoided the ugly publicity of a trial. Apparently they were happy to pay $787M to do so. They’ll probably tweak a few things slightly to avoid future ones. And there we are.
I read elsewhere, with numbers included,, that this represents 40 years of gross revenue.
I expect Fox’s main concern will be to put procedures in place to avoid ever seeing their behind-the-scenes discussions in public again. I’m not sure if that’s possible, but I still think this was a delicious one-off that we’ll likely never see again. I enjoyed every second of it, and we still have Smartmatic [rubbing hands gleefully]..
Thanks to bmaz for preparing me for this and explaining it. I already understood that this lawsuit is not going to stop the uber-rich from flooding us with propaganda.
Everything I’ve learned about Fox during this adventure suggests they don’t have that kind of control over their hosts. Each show is run as a it’s own little fiefdom.
Fox will continue as it has been. Maybe even amping some stuff up. I do think they will carefully avoid talking about voting machines, and probably steer clear of most claims that Trump won the election in 2020–but not entirely.
I think Roger Ailes had a tighter grip on the nightly content, when he wasn’t gripping the women.
As weak sauce as the Fox “acknowledgement” is, it appears to me that Dominion DID hold out for a measure of public vindication. There’s every reason to think that on Saturday Fox was looking for a confidential settlement, without numbers revealed and without publicly affirming that the judge had ruled against them. (They aren’t acknowledging that he was right, but they didn’t have to state that acknowledgement in their press release unless that was insisted upon as part of the settlement). There was an direction from the judge docketed on Tuesday morning that the Special Master’s mandate was expanded to include investigating statements made to the court about Murdoch’s role. That made it more likely Rupert would have to testify. This set up Fox’s conceding virtually everything. (Realistically, Dominion was never going to collect more than they are getting in this settlement, and the amount is publicized, AND Fox made a statement which Dominion and it’s supporters can legitimately claim acknowledges that Dominion’s claims were right–even if in subsequent court proceedings Fox will argue otherwise. They won’t be arguing that in court against Dominion),
Not only is Fox still facing a suit from Smartmatic, but also related suits from one of its producers, Abby Grossberg, and from some of its shareholders.
Well, so long as you feel good.
So, you admit you were wrong? And, by the way, other than your own self interest, which this lawsuit was never about, do you allege this settlement was bad? If so, why?
Settlement was bad for the American people, and our so-called leaders, who need to be shown -to have factual evidence- what FOXnews really is. A fascist propaganda outlet determined to destroy democracy in the USA, and the world. We all know this, but we need evidence. Now we aren’t going to see evidence, the Murdochs bought their way out of the crime, as they’ve done countless times before, and will do again. Legally!
But, heck, American’s fears about democracy in the USA “don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world” when compared to corporate profits. Certainly the Law isn’t concerned about it. The law is all about … the Law.
That’s one area where having AI in charge would probably be an improvement. Then we wouldn’t have to hope for justice. Justice! What a concept!
What a load of garbage. A civil defamation case in a local Delaware state court, that NEVER, had anything more than monetary damages at issue was not the basis of your concepts of democracy and justice. Never was, never was going to be. Frankly, thinking that is just wrong.
Bmaz: I presume that Murdock, Hannity and others were deposed before the trial with their answers recorded on video. What happens to that video? If their answers to awkward questions sworn under oath could be made public, your mere civil defamation case in a local Delaware state court might provide a greater source of justice than you imagine.
Oh, it is all out there. Doubt it will be made public per se, or showing up on TV news, but it is out there. I never said the case was not consequential, it was tremendously so. But the only remedy was monetary damage, the jury was never going to be able to fix the greater societal ills or order remedial action. This settlement does not either, but was a giant step forward.
As Lawrence Tribe eloquently explained on MSNBC this afternoon. The overwhelming evidence is now in the public sphere and available to other litigants. Fox lied. For cynical profit. Fomenting a violent insurrection. For cynical profit. Harry Litmann also explained that in addition to the settlement itself, Fox’s liability insurance premiums will skyrocket. I’m sorry it isn’t a complete victory like it’s some movie, with all issues neatly tied up with a bow. Sure, it would have been delicious to see what punitive damages the jury would have awarded. But it’s not the worthless disaster as Katherine Williams seems to believe.
How did this not produce evidence?
Dominion made most of the evidence public before they settled.
Tons of evidence. Right there on the record, and court rulings upholding its weight. Rulings Fox cannot really now dispute. And anything additional will be available to any other party that needs it upon request, if they don’t already have it, which I suspect they do.
What do you make of the special master inquiry regarding Fox’ alleged misconduct in the discovery process. Does that just go away or is there any chance that any of the material wrongfully withheld (not sure how that material would turn up) gets made public?
I am not sure if Fox was monumentally stupid in not settling this case last year – I wonder if they even had the opportunity. But Dominion basically did a ton of political damage to Fox and received substantially what they asked for (taking into account the time value of money and their risk). A pretty bad day for Rupert Murdoch, but not the worst imaginable.
The Dominion special master inquiry ended with the settlement. I suppose it’s possible that some of that withheld evidence would become public if it’s relevant to Abby Grossberg’s suit or the shareholder suit against Fox.
Does the special master inquiry end? That was looking into Fox’s behavior towards the court, which I would think is still at issue.
Yes, it is done. The judge terminated it post settlement.
I wanna see the 7,021 exhibits Dominion submitted.
Lol, how much you willing to pay for the copies? The Dominion trial team are likely still too giddy and inebriated, but remind me in a couple of weeks and I will see if they will send me a dropbox of it.
Fantastic, that’s great, bmaz.
Exactly. A brilliant choice by Dominion’s lawyers. And more civic-minded than some would like to admit.
None the less, us chickens are still clucking hahaha.
To repeat what I wished I’d said this morning… “this trial won’t last to the evening commute”… It was a take the under from the start.
This won’t fix Fox, but anyone who thinks it won’t have an effect is wrong. It won’t be a magic bullet, but there are no magic bullets short of Rupert losing control and some wild turn of events with his kids.
The lawyers will be empowered to shut down more crazy talk, guests will be more gun shy as they watch other cases unfold, and producers are going to have more incentive to pull the plug on things that might get them in trouble.
Complaining that this won’t fix everything is like complaining that the Wisconsin Supreme Court victory won’t single handedly bring back abortion and voting rights in America.
One state supreme court election won’t change everything, but it still matters.
Fox will probably pay out a billion or more when this is done, and for the “it’s all about the money” crowd, this is the kind of money that gets companies to think harder, even if they still struggle to think smarter.
FWIW, think that is exactly right. There are no magic bullets as to any of this. The Dominion case was very important, and will continue to be so because of other cases still out there and, yeah, this will affect all of those. None are, individually, that magic bullet, but jury trial eligible cases are not intended to be that individually. Time, however, moves things.
I heard someone on TV say [on MSNBC after the announcement, but the phone rang and I didn’t see whom] that the amount Fox is paying Dominion doesn’t even match the amount of increase that they are negotiating with the cable companies that want to carry them. There is no skin off their noses for this and the idiots who believe them will not be moved by them paying Dominion, if they even hear about it.
I am endlessly puzzled by liberals who attribute everything bad corporations do to their thirst for money, even when it will result in an absolutely minimal bump in ratings or clicks that might account for a few thousand bucks.
And then when a series of lawsuits comes along that may well top out a billion dollars, suddenly decide that it’s immaterial.
The truth lies in the middle — money isn’t everything for bad corporations. They do a lot for purely rotten motives. But once you get into the tens and hundreds of millions, it definitely means something to them. Just not everything.
“Skin off their noses” is a societal issue, not Dominion’s concern. This is a good settlement for Dominion.
Oh I agree completely, this is great for Dominion. I was just meaning that everyone who wanted to punish Fox, this is not really going to hit them that much.
bmaz, according to Reuters, investors in the $265 million private equity fund that Staple Street was using for investments when it acquired Dominion include the University of Arizona’s endowment
That sounds like Angelo Carusone of Media Matters.
It’s like people looking at Durham getting his tail handed to him, and complaining that Barr is still untouched, seeing Michigan’s government flip blue and complaining that Ohio is still red, seeing ProPublica embarrass Clarence Thomas and complaining that he’s still on the court….
Putting bad guys on the defensive in multiple places is a good thing even when these things are not decisive.
Bad guys try to slice their misfortunes up and minimize their importance. I don’t see why liberals feel the need to join in. It’s like watching Alan Colmes endlessly helping out Sean Hannity.
“I don’t see why liberals feel the need to join in.”
I have mixed feelings about this. I think of Reagan’s “11th commandment”: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” If more well-intentioned Republicans had spoken up loudly and publicly about the corruption they were seeing take hold of their party over the past few decades, I wonder if the degree or course of the rot might have been different. Plus, being raised religious and all, I think of the Bible passage about “cleansing the inside of the vessel first”. Just thinking out loud…
While I was, admittedly misguidedly, a popcorn eater, I also understand that this suit was the best possible outcome for Dominion (and for Fox; that’s what settlements are about).
The best we can hope for is that, with SmartMatic coming up, and with Rudy and Sidney and Mr. Pillow coming up, Fox will decide to be a bit circumspect about their spewing.
The arc of progress is LOOOOOONG. This suit is a tiny step, but it is a step forward.
But these types of cases and settlements only happen after a huge amount of problems. While fox and other outlets can defame or misinform millions of people every day, it’s only when the are caught in such a monumental case with a plaintiff that has the resources, that they are actually held to account.
Otherwise, they’ll just continue to spew insinuations, “I wonder if” speculations, and asides – just to keep their clients eyeballs and advertisers on board. I don’t expect to see any change in their format or messages.
” … there are no magic bullets short of Rupert losing control and some wild turn of events with his kids..”
Both are pretty much guaranteed. The guy with the scythe will show up soon for Rupert, and he has brought his children up to fight each other.
The Dominion litigation not only exacted a monetary penalty from Fox, but the company, its staff, and its board had to have spent a ton of money on lawyers’ fees. And even if their insurance carrier picked up the tab, the executives and staff spent time in depositions, preparing for depositions, and searching for documents. Major litigation is disruptive.
The Board and senior management will most likely be lectured by the insurance company on best practices.
And the litigation involving other aggrieved parties regarding the lies is not yet finished.
This has not been a happy experience for Fox. Will it change its business model? Probably not.
BTW I notice that the Garrulous Mr. Trump has not yet commented.
I am not positive any insurance covers this or their atty fees. It was pleaded as an intentional tort, which might be outside of coverage. Or not. You would “think” knowing what they do, they would have coverage broad enough for this, but it is not a given.
Docket-watchers can start watching for an insurance declaratory judgment action (which unfortunately could be filed in any number of jurisdictions) if insurance coverage is in dispute. Insurers may have been paying the defense costs under a reservation of rights, to be resolved by agreement or litigation later.
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One assumption that will forever go untested here is whether or not consumers of FOX “News” would have even responded to or cared about revelations that would have come out at trial. Being as most of the dirty laundry to be aired has been stored in a transparent crappy hamper for a while with essentially no blow-back from said group of consumers leads me to believe this settlement probably is legitimately the best result that could have been expected.
I tend to agree, I think the hoopla for an apology was pretty much pointless. It is a leap to think that a monotone reading of a technically written apology would embed in the mind of a typical Fox viewer, causing them to somehow see the light on the various historic misdeeds of Fox. And I see no possible way that any Fox employee, up to and including Rupert Murdoch, would ever sign off on a campaign of apology which might in any way have the effect of alienating their 3 million viewers
Yes to this. In my workplace experience, nothing focuses corporate attention and modifies corporate behavior like publicly announced monetary damages (or a regulatory fine). All corporations hate losing money and most of them hate being publicly exposed for icky behavior. This is a real kick in the teeth to Fox and I’d imagine it’s almost as bad for their internal morale as if they’d lost a jury verdict. Heck, maybe it’s even worse, because they could/would appeal any verdict, which would gin up morale while pending. Now they have to eat this settlement. This is the end of the line. This behavior cost them most of a billion dollars and exposed them as charlatans. And there are no do overs. Dominion handed Fox their asses, big time.
It is one hell of a start!
You have to wonder why Fox didn’t settle before the dirty laundry got aired.
Rumor is that they thought they could contain the dirty laundry. Fortunately for Dominion their attempts to hide significant communications were stymied or short-circuited.
Yep, I think this was a “fine and appropriate settlement “. And no, not much will penetrate the Fox News bubble. Periodically I check their online news to see their spin. They didn’t mention it at all for hours. They finally have an article saying a settlement had been reached and repeating the judges praise of the fine lawyering. Here’s the meat: “ The lawsuit, which stemmed from coverage of the post-2020 presidential election, had become media fodder with news outlets closely watching the outcome of the highly publicized legal battle.
Then-President Donald Trump and his allies fiercely challenged Joe Biden’s victory in the weeks following the election. Some of them, including members of his legal team, made false and unsubstantiated claims against Dominion Voting Systems and are the subject of separate defamation lawsuits.”
But interestingly, I read the first 30 reader comments and they were all quite negative toward Fox. (Are the libs trolling??)
Thanks for the great post!
My two questions about the settlement are (a) what happens to all the discovery Dominion gathered? Sometimes settlements require return or destruction, but Dominion has other cases still being pursued, so probably they get to keep and use it. And (b) whether the settlement caused the court to collapse the special master inquiry ordered just this morning (into whether discovery was improperly withheld by Fox)? As (b) relates to duties to the court and court rules, it isn’t necessarily ended, but it has sounded like that inquiry did not survive.
This was always about far more than a legal case. It was and is about our democracy, the pollution of the airwaves, how history (if we are going to be afforded a history) will be written, relationships between family and friends and even if we will be safe in our schools, supermarkets, churches and streets. Reducing this case and the many related ones to just the legal issues makes absolutely no sense to people like me who are trained in how culture ‘means’ and performs upon us all.
I have to admit that I wanted to know Murdock, et.al. had to sit in the hot seat. But putting that desire aside, these issues are as global as they could be.
No, it was a civil defamation case in a Delaware county court, not the rocket ship for your hopes and dreams
The one element of this civil defamation case that sets this case apart from others is that it is centered on a company – Dominion – whose business is central to the mechanics of democracy. Fox wasn’t accused of defaming a fast food company by spreading lies about their recipes, but defaming a company whose very existence is to count the votes quickly, carefully, and accurately.
I agree with your general comments about not projecting hopes and dreams onto this case, but it’s not a garden-variety legal case either.
Nobody is coming to save our democracy for us. Mueller didn’t, Dominion didn’t, and Jack Smith won’t. The only way to win is to keep winning elections until the Republican party gives up on authoritarianism or fractures.
The good news is we’re three election cycles deep into winning, with a number of special election victories as well.
There are no silver bullet lawsuits or prosecutions in the fight against the influence and priorities of radical anarchic wealth. It takes sustained concerted political effort to reduce their influence, of the kind that led billionaires to construct networks of influence over the past fifty years. These include reams of lobbyists, associations, think tanks, foundations, academic departments and whole universities, pet politicians and judges, ad nauseum. Their power they will not give up without an equally long fight.
Or a sudden societal collapse? Power changes quickly during collapses. Decisions driven by Fox News ratings agendas isn’t a good way to run a society…so the cracks are showing already.
In between making sure I filed my taxes on time – I owed the federal government a whopping $6 – I’ve been arguing with people on the internet who are insisting that Dominion should not have settled.
In what universe is Dominion getting almost $800 million in a (obviously non-confidential) settlement considered a BAD thing?! IMHO, there’s no way Dominion could have proved that amount in actual damages at trial. Their attorneys already got all the bad info about Fox into the public domain via their summary judgment briefs, and got an excellent result for their client. They’re fucking rockstars, as far as I’m concerned.
Anyone who thinks Dominion should have insisted on trying the case to a jury verdict obviously doesn’t understand how any of this works.
That is exactly right.
Count me among those who were somewhat surprised that Dominion was willing to settle absent a statement of wrongdoing from Fox. Their whole business model is built on their trustworthiness to run the machines that count ballots, and to have that defamed is to lose the one thing they cannot afford to lose.
And even if bbleh’s comments above are right about the owners making the financial deal with Fox as they prepare to try to be absorbed by some other company or otherwise come out rebranded, accepting a deal with Fox that includes no statement of wrongdoing would undermine whatever value the Dominion owners might have as they approach potential suitors. Whoever might absorb Dominion will be absorbing Dominion’s reputation along with it, and so the result of this case — whether a jury verdict, a financial settlement, or a statement of wrongdoing — will have a huge impact (for good or ill) with whatever future deal Dominion’s owners might be able to drive.
Who needs any admission of wrongdoing from Fox when they are paying out $787.5 million? That in itself is a heck of an admission. It’s insane for Dominion to insist on that; they got a hat they needed.
The number is a nice data point for refuting election denial.
And so often settlements include declaratory statements of no admittance of wrongdoing. That did not happen here. A summary judgment that everything Fox spewed was false – that’s huge. This didn’t win the war, but it moved the needle in the right direction. (Ugh – mixed metaphors anyone?)
Who needs any admission of wrongdoing from Fox when they are paying out $787.5 million? That in itself is a heck of an admission. It’s insane for Dominion to insist on that; they got what they needed.
I was also hoping for some sort of statement of wrongdoing from Fox.
Any of the discovery material that Dominion got be available to Jack Smith? Some of the election lies is overlapping with the J6 investigation, but not sure how it works.
I wonder whether letting Fox off the hook, as it were, was part of the design, After all, Powell, Pillowman, Higgins, and Giuliani can’t say “Fox made me do it”. Insofar as Dominion decides to pursue further damages, providing they feel there’s enough compensatory assets to be garnered, the scapegoat defense would carry less weight. But Dominion will be acting in their best interests as a business, not in the public interest. For that, you need a state’s or federal attorney general. They are the prosecutors (not defenders) of the public interest.
I might also add, with the Smartmatic action still pending, public acknowledgment of wrongdoing by Fox would be suicidal, an unreasonable expectation under the circumstances. As it is, Fox approaches that in greatly weakened state, and discovery during Dominion has already served well the public interest.
That is exactly right. And, I might add, the Smartmatic case is, as pleaded, far bigger than Dominion. Fox has a real problem, and the Dominion settlement paves the road for the rest. I don’t think people fully understand what has happened here.
What about attorneys fees? will Dominion ask for those?
No, the case is over.
Whatever Fox and Dominion exchange, it’s in the settlement or it won’t happen. I hope that Dominion receives cash at closing. Fox’s willingness and ability to meet future obligations might be questionable.
I agree with bmaz on the settlement. We’ll have to wait and see if anything changes at Fox. I have my doubts, since they’re still spewing many of the same lies that got them sued in the first place, just not putting the word “Dominion” in the lies.
FoxNews.com doesn’t have much to say about it – 10 stories in the last two years in my search for “Dominion”. Their epistemic closure is complete, reality is merely an inconvenience to be ignored or denied…
Bmaz called it – huge settlement, avoids huge risks of trial.
Staple Street Capital – Carlyle Group investment types – own 75% of Dominion. The payout is near Staple’s $800m total assets under management. Staple bought Dominion for $38m just 5yrs ago, valued at $80m 3 years ago, and now is a huge windfall, >20x return, with more settlements to go.
The CEO, with 12%, founded Dominion to help the disabled & physically challenged vote easier (thus the churchy/good Samaritan-type name), so will have tons of money – $90m and growing – for new altruistic ventures.
To clarify; in 2018 Staple Street Capital paid $38 million for a controlling stake of Dominion in 2018. Dominion had a $80 million valuation at the time.
According to their court filings, by 2020 Dominion had a valuation of $226 million-which is remarkable.
Staple Street made a killing on this investment, I’m hoping the rumors are true and a lot of Dominion employees are holding shares in the company as well.
Oh I like that “radical anarchic wealth.” Out of everything I’ve read today, that one sticks! Eat that rupert. Thanks Earlofhuntingdon.
BMAZ: Any idea if the Dominion attorney fees are hourly or contingent?
If they had a contingency, they’ll echo what I heard Joe Jamail say about setting what I think is still the record for largest jury verdict after Texaco interfered with Pennzoil’s contract to buy Gettty Oil: “Let me put it this way. I’m letting Pennzoil keep some of the money!”
doesn’t have to be an either/or. Can be a hybrid fee arrangement. I’d expect it is at least partially a contingent fee.
Yep, “radical anarchic wealth” is the dragon the disappointed people want to slay. It’s as nearsighted to think this lawsuit would be decisive in that battle as it is to think giving Trump his comeuppance will save our democracy from the authoritarian forces in play. For those who understand that money will always be able to have an outsize influence on what citizens believe to be true, there was no mistaken belief that the truth could triumph once and for all over propaganda based on a verdict in court or even a requirement to come clean on the air. Fox could easily undo in the afternoon the effect of confessing in the morning. Since the undue effect of Fox is because of the grotesque maldistribution of wealth, transferring a billion or so from the bad guys to the good is right on target.
Someone above discounted the effect of this on Fox. I have read that it represents half the annual revenue of the entire Fox enterprise. That is no small thing.
Another figure I heard tossed out is that Fox has approximately $4.1 billion in cash and/or easily-liquifiable monies “on hand”, so in that case, the $787.5 million payout represents 19.2% of that amount…
Having Trump actually be stopped for furthering his criming would go a long way towards proving that US society is capable of stopping at least one wannabe autocratic mobster from returning to the White House. Trump not answer for his many corrupt enablings would have the opposite effect. Repeatedly failing to stop the slide into authoritarian dictatorship is unlikely to lead to less autocratic dictatorship. If Trump does have to go to jail for breaking the law, that would almost certainly be a good battle to have won in the road back to a saner political culture in the US, even if is not the decisive victory that some imagine.
I’m not sure I agree about jail for Trump discouraging any future narcissist; they tend not to be dissuadable. But I agree heartily that there must be a penalty for trying to overthrow the government. It does bother me that for so many people, revenge against Trump seems more important than addressing the forces that inflicted him on us.
What is the tautology that you want to espouse?
Enforcing good laws, anti-corruption and fraud laws will never dissuade some personalities from breaking them. However, enforcing them, demonstrating that there are true and serious consequences for being caught breaking them, means that sane and rational people will seek to avoid being involved in such schemes.
Too many talking heads were shocked that the case settled at this point. That’s an indictment of their expertise.
This is absolutely the most likely point of settlement, at the brink, when each party is forced to evaluate an imminent verdict discounted by the prospect of the delay resulting from an appeal.
As a young law clerk, a partner explained to me that a case, involving claims of unfathomable amounts, would never go to trial, meaning verdict. It was all about each party assessing risk. “No one can afford to go to trial; the results for both of a bad results would be devastating.” But until the verdict, or even after a verdict, each side was calculating risks.
This seems to me as if the idea of Judicial Dissolution could possibly gain traction in regards to the corporation controlled by the Murdoch family. Yes, there are other corporations that deserve it more, and yes it is exceedingly rare. I am not even sure who would have standing to begin the process. I am not that studied. But it is my opinion, based upon available information, that the Murdoch family tried to overthrow our constitutional order for fun and profit.
I think it would be easier to prove than some of the seditious conspiracy charges which have been successful.
I am not naive, it’s a pipe dream, but just the effort would IMO go a long way to righting a wrong that The Dominion suit was never intended to do.
No, that is not going to happen.
“That is not going to happen” is pretty much the definition of a pipe dream. I have never held any illusions that this was anything other than what you have always said it was, but that being said, I would like it very much if you could expand upon the idea of judicial dissolution. Who would have standing? Obviously, the state where FOX is incorporated would be the where such an attempt would be made. I have my own bias as to why this could never happen, but would like to better understand. Why do you think it could never happen?
Spitballing here, but I don’t think anybody has standing to accomplish that. Maybe some kind of wildly successful shareholder revolt and action, but seeking dissolution would harm their own interests and value, so that isn’t happening either.
Delaware Title 8 allows for the revocation of a corporate charter issued in Delaware under section 284. It is the attorney general of the state who has standing to bring it before the chancery court. This is a layman’s reading of course, and as Tom Waits famously said, “ the large print giveth, but the small print taketh away”
Are you kidding me? You think DE would ever do that??
Once again, it’s not a matter of if they would do it, it is a matter of could they do it. I get you cynicism, really I do, but you are conflating two things in being dismissive of the idea. My question has always been, can it be done? Not whether it will be done. I agree with you, liberals are a flaccid bunch of magical thinkers, but that is a different topic all together. Let’s approach it another way, do you agree that legally it can be done? All the leg work has pretty much been accomplished during Dominions discovery, right? Let’s say you were the Attorney General of Delaware. By statute you have standing. That’s a big hurtle. What would it take for you to do it? Political pressure? Or are there legal roadblocks? Are they insurmountable? Or do you think what we all witnessed with our own eyes and ears is protected speech?
I recall that there was at least one Dominion senior employee that was harassed with death threats from all the usual MAGA types being their darling little selves. He and his family had to go into hiding.
Can someone say if that was part of the damages claimed by Dominion and/or if any of the award was for the personal damages of that individual(s)?
You bring up an excellent point. There are individuals who were individually harmed by Fox’s need to get back its ratings relevance through the broadcasting of outright fraudulent lies. What’s their recourse? How do they get compensated for being caused this sort of trauma by the slanderous actions of Fox News Corp.?
Of course, one answer is in Marcy’s contemporaneous article about Ruby Freeman’s defamation suit…
On one hand, the settlement has deprived late night show hosts of a lot of material for their comedy routes
The settlement is a fair amount of money It acknowledges what Fox did wasn’t a good thing . The amount of money Fox has to pay out in the corporate world may not be a huge amount. However, the general publc will see it as a very large amount and it does signify Dominion was the “injuired” party.
A trial would have cost both sides a lot more money, so this most likely saves both sides some cash. No trial means the corporations can get back to their regular work instead of being invested in a court case. A full blown court case wasn’t going to make any one happy and it would have caused more anger in the country.
Fox now knows there are corporations which will fight back and that there are limits to what media companies can say.
Both Fox and DeSantis are learning that conflict with American Corporations is a losing battle. I expect them each to reconsider and align with them in the future. The future for Fascism remains on the road to success.
Only a pushback from our Government can retard this. Don’t see that as likely soon.
It’s All For the Benefit of the Few at the Expense of the Many.
The $787.5 million settlement represents ~10 times the company’s valuation from 2018, and roughly eight times its annual revenue in 2021, according to court filings. I just hope it’s enough to hurt Fox News real bad. But it does not look like it is enough to force them to change some of their behavior.
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Does anyone know more about the stock holder’s reactions?
One shareholder suit has already been filed in The Delaware Court of Chancery (according to The Financial Times).
The Financial Times also says that the fallout from the News of The World hacking scandal was over a billion British Pounds.
I defer to legal professionals that this is a good result. I always felt that the Fox was at last exposed out of his hole for all to see and that, to me, is critical. Sure, I would love to have seen an on-air apology by Fox and my hidden demons would have loved for the 4 or 5 opinion liars to have had to testify just to watch the spectacle of squirming, but they did have to sit depositions didn’t they? Those texts and emails won’t disappear now. Hopefully, democrats and real news agencies will keep reminding everybody about what was going on.
This is the only way for the Fox to get what I think has coming to him. A long process bumped along by sometimes legal means that makes it face its own vulnerabilities instead of preying on others weaknesses. Hopefully it doesn’t feel so clever today, not that any recent on-air opinionated broadcasts I’ve seen are real evidence of that happening as yet.
I have to agree with Bmaz. This is a business dispute about reputational damages. Not to be contrarian, but it’s actually astounding to see a defamation claim be so overwhelmingly proven during discovery.
The most positive outcome is that we can all move on to the next set of egregious and existential threats to democracy and the Constitution. Such an enormous sum is not going to move the needle on our political dysfunction but, if it stands, it sure will give some “truthy” outliers pause for the next couple of cycles. And, if you’re honest and not projecting, as soon as Rupert was faced with the public humiliation of public testifmony under oath – it was a certainty that this would settle before trial.
Sorry, Fox Entertainment will not go away. Liability insurance, greed and bigotry make it likely they will continue to spew and grow their bottom line. The Federalist Society and Lewis Powell’s progeny will continue to undermine personal freedom and social equity. Rupert remains a total jackass. On the positive side; the Trump dynasty, Newsmax, OAN, Lindel, Rudi and the rest of the insurrection caucus can look foward to further public scrutiny.
The show goes on.
Please be more careful about throwing around the names of corporate identities. Fox Entertainment is not Fox News, even if you’re trying to make a dig at Fox News and Fox Corporation. Both are subsidiaries of Fox Corporation which is a publicly-traded corporation (Nasdaq:FOXA, Nasdaq:FOX).
The suits were US Dominion, Inc., Dominion Voting Systems, Inc., and Dominion Voting Systems Corporation v. Fox News Network, LLC;
and US Dominion, Inc., Dominion Voting Systems, Inc., and Dominion Voting Systems Corporation v. Fox Corporation.
I would *very* much like to read a post (or comment) analyzing any or all of the other six suits, which I won’t try to correctly name (the other two right-wing “news” outlets and the four individuals – Byrne, Giuliani, Powell and Lindell). One question is why the case that just settled went so far ahead of the others which are predicted to occur no sooner than 2024. Another question is whether you think these other six are likely to have as hard a time of it as Fox. For example, is the audio clip in which Rudy interacts with Maria Bartiromo going to be as damaging for Rudy as it apparently was for the case just settled? Finally do the experts here think Smartmatic will do as well as Dominion did? Smartmatic seems to be suing individual hosts as well as the organization and the guests.
Here is an article from Forbes (dateline 4/19/2023) listing the various lawsuits Dominion and Smartmatic have brought, with some discussion of the status.
https://www. forbes. com/sites/alisondurkee/2023/04/19/fox-news-defamation-settlement-here-are-where-dominion-and-smartmatics-other-lawsuits-stand-now/
Would a state AG have standing to bring a defamation claim against Fox for state/Dominion defamation?
I would think they would not have standing, but then again, I only have a high school diploma. The AG of Delaware though, in my uneducated opinion, would have standing to bring a charge of fraud in chancery court to revoke the charter of the Llc. Dominion’s discovery lays out that they knowingly sold falsehoods to their audience to prevent them from leaving if told the truth. The motive was purely financial. I would think it’s pretty straightforward. That being said, there is no real history of the state of Delaware revoking corporate charters, even in the face of far worse corporate behavior
I had cataract laser surgery on my left eye last week. The right eye is on tap for next week.
I didn’t realize what I have missed until the $787.5 million eye-popping hush money settlement was announced.
In summary judgment, I think the lawsuit was all about free speech versus propaganda
“Propagandists emphasize the elements of information that support their position and deemphasize or exclude those that do not. Misleading statements and even lies may be used to create the desired effect in the public audience. Lobbying, advertising, and missionary activity are all forms of propaganda, but the term is most commonly used in the political arena. Prior to the 20th century, pictures and the written media were the principal instruments of propaganda; radio, television, motion pictures, and the Internet later joined their ranks.” Jessie Ball Dupont Library, Sewanee The University of the South
Fox News is the clear winner, democracy comes in as a poor second.
It is absolutely ludicrous to call this a win for Fox.
Yeah — but beware — Fox News could be laughing at you.
The Dominion lawyer, Justin Nelson came up with a great phrase to justify their settlement. He used “In the heartland of the First Amendment” as in “the case was in the heartland of the First Amendment and what Dominion did was define the truth. The truth matters and lies have consequences.”
Exactly — but they have more than financial consequences, they have democratic consequences. He got it half right. They need to apologize to their viewers, and they will never do that.
Nope, this case was NEVER about other “consequences” nor could it have been. Money damages was the only thing at issue.
Bmaz is correct. The case was about financial damages. What you are describing, propaganda, is free speech. But, IMO, the financial component of trying to stop the loss of viewers by lying to them constitutes fraud. Dominion does not have standing to prosecute fraud. The political will to revoke a corporate charter has long been dormant. Perhaps Ron DeSantis will try to do it in his fight with The Rat. I would not hold my breath thinking anyone on the left would muddy themselves in that kind of street fight.
BMaz is mostly right. What the parties do within the rules is the parties’ own damned business. Dominion does not owe the public a right to more schadenfreude.
But …. What the judge does is not the judge’s own damned business, even if the parties both petition for it. Judges are way too eager to acquiesce in sealed dockets, just because the parties prefer it that way. And in the Dominion case, the public had an interest in the special master inquiry. Skeezy lawyering affects us all, if it is consequence-free. But the judge dropped the inquiry, apparently as part of the settlement. He is open to criticism for it, although the parties are not.
I don’t know if dropping the special master inquiry was “apparently part of the settlement.” The parties agreed to the terms of the settlement. No matter to what extent we agree or loathe the settlement, it’s well within the parameters of reasonable. There were no civil court reasons for the judge to reject the settlement. That ends the case. It doesn’t mean that there were specific terms to shut down the special master. The case was over.
If it went to trial and Dominion won $1.5b, it would get appealed and reappealed, spinning it out for years.
With the settlement, Dominion gets the money fairly quickly.
Murdoch has suffered big legal losses in the past, he doesn’t care, it’s a loss leader he is happy to bankroll.
The best we can hope is this opens the floodgates for law suits against Murdoch “news” outlets, and eventually it becomes too expensive to continue pushing extremist propaganda.
One of the guests on MSNBC’s Morning Joe (i.e., consider the source) said that the judge had appointed a special master yesterday morning. I know nothing about how that process works. Do any of the lawyers?
The court had appointed someone, Delaware attorney John A. Elzufon, to review the thoroughness of Fox’s discovery responses and disclosures. But it is my understanding that process is now not going to take place as the case is over. Possible that the seed was planted for Smartmatic in their NY action though!
I’ve read that too.
But violations of the discovery rules are a separate matter involve a lawyer’s ethical obligations of candor to the tribunal. I think that would allow the judge to continue the investigation .
The judge appears to have decided it isn’t worth the expense and hassle in this instance.
No, and that was correct decision.
The misinformation will now continue.
The only bad thing for the bystanders is that Fox will continue to spread their brand of bullshit to the masses from the same hosts who were easily let off of testifying once the settlement was reached.
Do you think Tucker went a little easier on anyone last night?
Hopefully the next cases will cement the demise of Fox and it’s hosts.
Brilliant! Well played, Dominion! Together with the plaintiffs’ attorneys in the Alex Jones Sandy Hook trial, we’ve seen some plucky (and a bit lucky) lawyering. I’ve learned some things through the school of hard knocks and through reading this blog. I feel much more knowledgeable now and better able to make appropriate decisions, though I hope I never need to.
Also, from my own piddling, podunk experience I can say that there were a few other unexpected wins outside the courtroom over a period of time. So, it will be interesting to watch the various ramifications of the related suits.
Kenny Rogers – “The Gambler” (Live)
FWIW: After the Dominion settlement, I was curious about whether Smartmatic’s lawsuit against Fox was in front of the same judge (Eric M David) as Dominion’s. It turns out Judge Davis is the judge in Smartmatic vs Newsmax, in Delaware, but the judge in Smartmatic vs Fox is David B Cohen in NY Supreme Court. (Obviously I had’t been paying enough attention.) I would think the Dominion discovery would be helpful to Smartmatic in both of its cases.
If you use stock price (FOX and/or NWS) as a proxy for understanding the damage done to Fox, it tells a different story. Both stocks are unremarkable and underperform the market in the long term – they are pretty much a poor investment compared to a simple S&P index. The only time that the stock recently performed relatively well was in February 2021, when they stopped their flirtation with moderation and lurched back rightward to recapture the OANN and Newsmax audiences.
My opinion is that yes, the settlement hurt Fox, but they have little choice but to continue on the path that they are on. They became the dominant cable news channel by catering to a certain demographic, and they have gained a lot of financial and political power by doing so. I don’t think they have any viable option other than continuing to service that demographic. Although the settlement was expensive, at this point it probably is less expensive than retreating from extremism. As I write this, FOX is down 1.2% and NWS is up 0.9%. I would expect their focus to be on how to continue to serve their demographic while limiting the legal repercussions for doing so.
Fox News’ performance is why Murdochs ventured into Fox Sports — a captive market for pushing their “news” product which may provide income their “news” doesn’t.
If Disney did a better job with ESPN which it hangs onto for similar reasons, Fox Sports wouldn’t offer enough revenue through diversification of product and audience.
bmaz- I just wanted to apologize for my comment yesterday. It was out of line. Thanks for the good work you do at Emptywheel.
CNN anchor Pamela Brown asked Dominion Voting Systems Lead Counsel Justin Nelson why weren’t on-air apologies part of the Fox News settlement?
“… how much of a sticking point to reach the settlement was an apology or a retraction? How much of a role did that play in the settlement negotiations?“.
“NELSON: Well, I don’t really want to get into that.”
Translation: there was no way Fox was going to apologize. Trump is still screeching that the election was rigged and their acknowledgment would be a shit show for Fox.
I didn’t expect this would reform Fox or result in forced resignations, but I held out hopes for an apology. Short of that, I hoped any settlement would be after a few weeks into the trial with a few people from Fox testifying under oath and the Fox audience would hear Trump screaming about it. That would certainly have hurt Fox more than the settlement.
But this case was not about my hopes and I was glad to see the financial damages were made public.
For consequences, what about an organized demand by cable company subscribers to have their cable company drop Fox News Network and Fox Corporation products from the cable companies’ bundled monthly fee packages?
Use the recent court settlement as evidence of Fox News Network’s untrustworthiness and swap it out for something else such as BBC News in the monthly bundle that cable companies offer subscribers. (Bundles are way things are packaged in my area).
Make Fox News Network a premium channel that only fans of its lies will pay to hear.
If that is not possible, I am going to guess that pricing of various other Fox cable products including sports helps to prevent such an easy surgical excision.
Maybe! Would be a start.
That’s what Angelo Carusone of Media Matters is talking about in this THREAD from the other day, a website called NoFoxFee.
Right now they’re negotiating carriage renewal with Xfinity, Charter and Cox:
10:43 PM · Apr 13, 2023
Sounds like the Fair and Balanced thing to do! ffs
This is very interesting, because I remember discussion about the fact that Tucker Carlson’s only remaining advertiser was The Pillow Guy, which was why he kept appearing on his show. I wonder if the individual talking heads on Fox have their compensation somehow tied to the advertisers on their shows.
Think of Tucker hyperventilating about the sinking Fox Corp. stock price because of the the crazies they were putting on the air. This could explain his reaction. He doesn’t strike me as a corporate guy as much as a Tucker Carlson guy.
Tucker is also a major suck up. Even if his comp is not tied to the stock price, his bosses’ comp will be, which makes his concern over the company’s stock price a twofer.
Noted legal expert Angelo Carusone. Okay.
I’m surprised cable companies have to pay more for Fox than other broadcasters. I would think cable companies, with their access to subscribers’ channel viewing habits (presumably in real time), could confidently drop Fox in markets where only a small percentage turn to Fox News.
Would it surprise any of us if it we found out that the cable suppliers are in cahoots with the media producers and with the large advertisers? There’s not a lot of open-market transparency in these purveyors of entertainment, truthiness, and alternate facts.
Have you seen what they extract for ESPN?
I called my dissatisfaction in, although the old man could be pissed about the sports shit. Too bad, just as I said when Roethlisberger fucked up. Wouldn’t watch for a year or two.
This ain’t raping one woman this is raping democracy. Boyz included.
Gross analogy as if the first is inconsequential.
Sorry, but as a rape survivor I’ve learned to talk about it.
Or just cut carriage fees for Fox News to the same level as MSNBC and CNN.
“Thanks to an arcane line in the tax code, Fox can deduct that settlement payment from its income taxes, according to a company spokesperson and tax experts consulted by The Lever. That’s because federal law allows taxpayers to write off many legal costs, providing that they are ‘ordinary and necessary’ business expenses. The IRS has repeatedly affirmed that for major corporations, paying out settlements is just part of the cost of doing business. …
“’If your business model is to tell lies so that you’ll get viewers and have lots of advertising revenues, then, odious though this business model may be, the tax system’s job is to tax you on the profits that you actually make from it,’ Daniel Shaviro, a professor of tax law at NYU, told The Lever. ‘And those profits are indeed reduced when you are successfully sued by the victims of your malicious falsehoods.’ Brian Nick, Fox Corporation’s chief communications officer, told The Lever that ‘I can confirm tax deductibility but not the amount.’ …”
There are a few exceptions, but this doesn’t fall into them, which sucks.
The “Lever News”? May be right, but I’d not be to quick on this take.
Ha, it turns out that a lot of credit goes to the mediator. Funny thing is, that’s what happened with me, as well. A veteran mediator resolved things within a day for me. She was to the point, neutral and knew exactly how to encourage a settlement.
Here’s the info on the mediator for Dominion and Fox:
“Veteran mediator Jerry Roscoe was on a relaxing river cruise from Budapest to Bucharest celebrating his 70th birthday on Sunday when he received an urgent phone call.”
Eh, I would not buy into that narrative.
OK. I’m sure attorneys and execs did a great deal of work. Could it be the mediator made things smoother or more convincing?
I don’t know, but doubt mediator was the answer.
One article I read said that Rupert was leaning toward settlement but Vinh wasn’t. There was a tweak in the language, a nod to acknowledging wrongdoing that Dominion was glad to see. Then abracadabra, settled.
I might have settled for door #2 (the door that included an apology) in my case if the final mediator had intervened earlier. She was able to persuade me in a way that others had not. But I don’t have any real regrets. I lost some and I gained some, with lots of surprises, too. That doesn’t mean I’d want to do it again, though.
Dominion engineered a best-of-both-worlds outcome here. They got a huge sum of money which speaks volumes about Fox’s culpability. But they also got an enormous volume of Fox’s dirty laundry into the public record via the summary judgment briefs.
Who cares about a public apology? Those realistically never happen, and everyone now knows it was a thorough beatdown anyway.
I’m already bored with people criticizing Dominion for accepting a settlement offer of close to $800 million, and/or insisting that they should have gone to trial. Dominion’s options were losing at trial; winning but with a substantially lower damages verdict; or winning at trial and spending years tied up in appeals. None of these options were good.
Dominion already got the evidence of Fox’s wrongdoing in the public domain via their summary judgment briefing; a trial wouldn’t have changed anything. In particular, the judge refused to allow cameras in the courtroom; nobody was ever going to see a video clip of Tucker Carlson saying how much he hates Trump.
Dominion’s attorneys had only one obligation, which was to get the best result for their client. They did so. Dominion and its attorneys don’t owe anything further to anyone.
I’ve been pointing out online that this wasn’t a victory for Fox, and it was never about saving democracy.
This case was always ultimately about money. The settlement amount is astonishing, and reflects paranoia by Fox as to what the trial would do do its brand, as opposed to actual damages suffered by Dominion. Clearly, the exposure of a verdict was huge, but Fox risked far greater harm to itself should its stars be publicly humiliated on the stand.
Of course they paid an astonishing amount to avoid the far worse consequences of the trial.
Dominion to OAN and Newsmax, which are both much smaller than Fox:
“Hand over the keys.”
Fox News, Unapologetic and Unwavering, Steams Ahead After Staggering Dominion Settlement Fox kept touting its ratings as the trial loomed, and now that it’s over, the cable giant is sure to remain focused on the bottom line. “This was always, always about the money,” says one Murdoch associate. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2023/04/fox-news-dominion-lawsuit-settlement 4/19/23
Via Anne Nelson:
9:05 AM · Apr 20, 2023
So there is more gambling at the casino? I am shocked!
Right, no shockers there.
Here’s that Eric Blair THREAD on Internet Archive:
It ends with:
People nearly always seem to find settlement of civil lawsuits for money insufficient. Money, however, is what civil lawsuits are about, by their nature. The measure of damage in a civil lawsuit is money. It is very satisfying that Dominion sued Fox for $1.5 billion, but somehow not satisfying that settlement occurred for $787 million, but without any other penalties such as a public admission of wrongdoing. But those admissions are not really what a civil suit is meant to accomplish.
I know you are aware of this, but Dominion had to make a hard calculation of what measure of monetary damages they would most likely get if they proceeded through with a trial. Given their limited revenues, they were never going to get anywhere close to $1.5 billion, or even $787 million, in actual damages, even in the wildest speculation of their damages expert.
So, you take what you can get if you’re Dominion. Damage to Fox has already been done anyway with the public disclosure of their internal communications obtained in discovery, showing that they are lying to the rubes for ratings. Now, on to the next suit.