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Fox News, Dominion Reach Settlement in Defamation Case

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Fox News, Dominion Reach Settlement in Defamation Case

Fox News Headquarters is pictured in New York City, January 20, 2021. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

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By BRITTANY BERNSTEIN

April 18, 2023 4:28 PMListen to article

Fox News has reached a settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, ending a massive defamation lawsuit in which the voting machine company sought $1.6 billion in damages over false claims the cable news network made in the wake of the 2020 election.

Dominion lawyer Justin Nelson said Fox had settled the case for $787.5 million. He said the settlement represents “accountability.”

“Today represents a ringing endorsement of truth and democracy,” Nelson added.

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The trial was set to begin with opening statements Tuesday afternoon but was delayed for hours as both sides met to negotiate a settlement. The judge told the jury they could be excused just before 4 p.m.

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“We are pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute with Dominion Voting Systems,” Fox News said in a statement. “We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. This settlement reflects FOX’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.”

Fox News, which is the most-watched U.S. cable news network, said it is hopeful the 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.”

Dominion attorney Stephen Shackleford told reporters that “money is accountability and we got that today from Fox.”

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Dominion CEO John Poulos, meanwhile, said at a press conference: “Fox has admitted to telling lies about Dominion that caused enormous damage to my company, our employees, and the customers that we serve. Nothing can ever make up for that.”

Dominion alleged that Fox News staffers and guests defamed the company with false claims that its voting machines had switched votes for then-President Donald Trump to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. February court filings from Dominion revealed internal communications from Fox in which Fox Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch and other figures at the network acknowledged the network’s claims about Dominion rigging the election were false.

The settlement comes after Delaware Superior Court judge Eric Davis dismissed arguments from Fox News that the statements at issue were opinion and therefore protected by the First Amendment. Davis outlined 19 examples of figures, including Lou Dobbs, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, making on-air statements that asserted “facts and [were] therefore not protected under the opinion privilege.”

“The evidence does not support that [Fox News network] ‘conducted good-faith, disinterested reporting,” Judge Davis wrote. “Like in Cianci v. New Times Pub. Co., where the Second Circuit held that defendant’s failure to reveal facts and plaintiffs side of the story was not disinterested reporting, FNN’s failure to reveal extensive contradicting evidence from the public sphere and Dominion itself indicates its reporting was not disinterested.”

Another voting machine company, Smartmatic, has also filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox for its 2020 election claims. Smartmatic is seeking $2.7 billion in damages in New York state court.

Smartmatic attorney J. Erik Connolly responded to news of the Dominion settlement in a statement saying, “Dominion’s litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign. Smartmatic will expose the rest.”

“Smartmatic remains committed to clearing its name, recouping the significant damage done to the company, and holding Fox accountable for undermining democracy,” Connolly said.

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

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Brittany Bernstein
BRITTANY BERNSTEIN is a news writer for National Review Online. @brittybernstein

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