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.

Dominion v. Fox – Now What?

Members of the Emptywheel community are on top of almost everything. So you probably know that late over the weekend, the judge in the Dominion v. Fox defamation trial in Wilmington Delaware continued the trial. For one day, moving the continuation of jury selection from this morning, Monday, to the same time, 9:00 am, tomorrow, Tuesday.

That caused quite a stir on the internet, but, as the judge explained today, is quite common, although he did not say why it had been done in this case.

The speculation is that it was to give one extra day past the weekend for the parties to contemplate settlement. Courts, especially a rapid moving one like the Delaware Court, rarely do that on their own. One or both parties have to request it. Was it Fox, Dominion, or both?

Then late last night, there were reports there had been no settlement reached. That is not surprising in the least, as Sunday would have just been the start, any really settlement would come Monday. So far, so good, but now what?

Short answer is that is unclear. Even today is not a drop dead deadline. Trials can be settled even during jury voir dire or into arguments and evidence. I would very much think the judge here would rather it be sooner rather than later, but doubt given the strain on the court, would probably accept it at any point.

The internet hills are alive with the sound of (almost always) non-trial lawyers yammering that Dominion should “not” settle, because the “public” is entitled to this spectacle.

What a load of bullshit. There are two parties to this civil litigation, and the “public” is not one of them. But the two actual parties in interest, Dominion and Fox have their own interests and needs that obliterate public call for a show trial for their puerile amusement, and “popcorn” moment.

Attorney Brad Moss noted:

“For those asking why Dominion might settle, there are at least three things to remember:

1) non-trivial chance the pre-trial rulings get reversed on appeal and the whole thing is tossed;

2) trials are a wild card; and

3) if they can accomplish their primary goals, why not?”

Attorney Peter Zeidenberg, who this blog knows well if you go far enough back, said:

“Better reason: the damages case for $1.6B is pretty weak. If awarded it could easily get tipped on appeal. $500M would be a tempting offer.”

Frankly, I agree with both on this. Will the case settle? I have no idea, but there are good reasons for both parties to try. And it would certainly thrill the court. There is a lot of sense in making the attempt.

BREAKING from Fox News: Trump Cheated … and He Still Couldn’t Beat Joe Biden

Rupert Murdoch, in a sworn deposition as part of Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox, confessed that he helped Donald Trump cheat during the 2020 election. He provided Jared Kushner confidential information about Joe Biden’s ads, the kind of information that Trump had to rely on Russian spies to obtain from Hillary in 2016.

During Trump’s campaign, Rupert provided Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor,Jared Kushner, with Fox confidential information about Biden’s ads, along with debate strategy. Ex.600, R.Murdoch 210:6-9; 213:17-20; Ex.603 (providing Kushner a preview of Biden’s ads before they were public).

On January 5, Rupert and Suzanne Scott talked about having their top opinion shows, in concert, admit the truth: The election is over. Joe Biden won. The claim that the election was stolen was nothing but a Trump myth.

On January 5, Rupert and Scott discussed whether Hannity, Carlson, and Ingraham should say some version of “The election is over and Joe Biden won.” Ex.277. He hoped those words “would go a long way to stop the Trump myth that the election stolen. Id;Ex.600, R.Murdoch 258:5-14.

But Scott didn’t want to do that publicly, because she wanted to avoid pissing off viewers.

Scott told Rupert that privately they are all there but we need to be careful about using the shows and pissing off the viewers . Ex.277. So nobody made a statement.

The next day, her pissed off viewers attacked the Capitol.

And all the while, while Fox News assisted Trump’s efforts to weaponize a mass of angry Fox and InfoWars viewers, Rupert Murdoch knew that he had — personally! — helped Trump cheat and it still wasn’t enough for Trump to beat Joe Biden.

Again, I highly encourage you to take the time to read this. It’s another devastating indictment of the propaganda network run by Rupert.

Because, ultimately, when Rupert is forced to answer questions under oath, it becomes clear the extent to which Fox was covering up what a loser (Rupert knows that) Trump is.