Fox News to pay Dominion $788 million in settlement, ending defamation trial
Fox News Network and Dominion Voting Systems today reached a $787.5 million settlement, ending a trial in Dominion's defamation lawsuit against Fox just before opening arguments would have been heard.
"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," Dominion attorney Justin Nelson said in a press conference today, according to CNN.
Nelson revealed the $787.5 million settlement figure during the press conference. He said the deal provides "vindication and accountability," showing that "the truth matters, lies have consequences."
The trial was originally scheduled to begin in Delaware Superior Court yesterday, but the start was delayed one day because the sides were holding settlement talks. A 12-person jury was selected Tuesday, and opening statements were slated for this afternoon. But there was another delay, which was followed by the settlement announcement.
"We acknowledge the court's rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false," Fox said in a statement, according to Reuters. "This settlement reflects Fox's continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards. 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."
Fox News apparently won't have to apologize on air. "Under the terms of the settlement, Fox News will not have to apologize or admit to spreading false claims on network programming, according to a person familiar with the details of the agreement," The New York Times wrote.
Judge ruled Fox News aired false statements
On March 31, Judge Eric Davis ruled that Fox News aired false statements about Dominion related to the 2020 presidential election. These statements were defamatory per se because they "claimed that Dominion committed election fraud; manipulated vote counts through its software and algorithms; is founded in Venezuela to rig elections for dictator Hugo Chavez; and paid kickbacks to government officials who used the machines in the Election," he wrote.
"While the Court must view the record in the light most favorable to Fox, the record does not show a genuine issue of material fact as to falsity," Davis wrote. Davis said it was "crystal clear" that none of the Fox News statements challenged by Dominion were true. "Therefore, the Court will grant summary judgment in favor of Dominion on the element of falsity," he wrote.
If the trial had gone forward, jurors would have had to decide whether Fox News acted with actual malice. If Dominion won, jurors would have had to calculate damages to be awarded to Dominion, which asked for $1.6 billion.
Davis announced the settlement in court shortly before 4 pm ET, CNBC wrote. "Without you, the parties would not have been able to resolve their situation," Davis reportedly told jurors. "Although it's short, not the six weeks you've expected, you have done your duty."
We contacted Fox News and Dominion today and will update this article if we get additional information on the settlement terms.
Dominion separately sued Newsmax and One America News Network. Voting machine maker Smartmatic also sued all three networks.
Smartmatic attorney J. Erik Connolly reportedly issued a statement saying that "Dominion's litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox's disinformation campaign," and "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."
Newsmax provided a statement saying it "believes that the facts at issue in Dominion's case against it are materially different from those that may have driven Fox to settle, and no conclusion about Newsmax should be drawn from that settlement. Newsmax stands by its coverage and analysis of the 2020 election and will continue to vigorously defend against the claim."