The media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News network have reached a settlement of £633m ($788m) with Dominion Voting Systems, following accusations that the network knowingly broadcast false claims that Dominion’s technology was used to rig the 2020 election of Joe Biden. This settlement is expected to be the largest in a libel case in US history and is likely to exceed the £1bn paid out in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
The Last Minute Settlement with Dominion
The last-minute settlement with Dominion came as a surprise, with the network paying out less than half the $1.6bn in damages Dominion had been seeking. The deal was reached after a jury had been selected, and as the two sides were poised to begin opening statements. This settlement spared Fox from a potentially embarrassing trial that would have shed light on the heart of Mr Murdoch’s empire. The 92-year-old was expected to take the stand, with Fox News chairman Suzanne Scott and presenters including Tucker Carlson also expected to testify.
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The Continuing Legal Woes of Fox News
Despite the settlement, Fox’s legal woes are likely to continue. The company is now facing a $2.7bn lawsuit filed by another voting technology company, Smartmatic USA. Smartmatic secured approval for its case from a New York judge in March and has vowed to push ahead with legal action. Smartmatic’s lawyer, Erik Connolly, has said that “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.”
Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan have also been personally sued over claims they failed to stop Fox broadcasting “false and dangerous” claims. Robert Schwarz, a shareholder in Fox, has accused the billionaire media mogul and four other board members of failing to ensure Fox lived up to its ethical standards and avoided reputational risk.
The Prospects of the Bill Ballooning over £1bn
The litany of lawsuits raises the prospect that Mr Murdoch’s bill will balloon over the £1bn estimated to have been paid out to resolve claims related to phone hacking at News of the World. Analysts suggest that Smartmatic does not have the “same mountain of evidence” as Dominion, but it is still likely that the overall cost of legal action will amount to more than £1bn.
Fox News Acknowledges Court’s Rulings
In a statement issued following the Dominion deal, Fox acknowledged the court’s rulings “finding certain claims about Dominion to be false”. However, the channel will not be required to issue any retractions or on-air apologies. Coverage of the blockbuster deal was muted on Fox News. Hosts Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, who had been expected to testify in the trial, did not reference the settlement during their primetime broadcasts on Tuesday night. Fox anchor Neil Cavuto broke into his headline afternoon news show “Your World” to report the settlement and read a statement by Fox, in which it said it was pleased to have reached an agreement to avert a trial but stopped short of an apology.
The settlement between Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems marks a significant moment in the history of libel cases in the United States, as it is likely to be the largest settlement of its kind. However, Fox’s legal woes are far from over, with Smartmatic USA pursuing a $2.7bn lawsuit and Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan facing personal lawsuits over claims they failed to stop Fox broadcasting false and dangerous claims. The prospect of the bill ballooning over £1bn is a real possibility, given the number of ongoing lawsuits. The lawsuits also shed light on the issue of media ethics, with shareholders accusing Murdoch of failing to ensure Fox lived up to its ethical standards and avoided reputational risk.
The legal battles facing Fox News highlight the importance of responsible journalism and media ethics. In an era where false information spreads rapidly, media outlets must be vigilant in their reporting and take responsibility for the impact of their stories.
The outcome of the lawsuits against Fox News will have implications beyond the media industry. They have the potential to impact democracy itself, with accusations of undermining democracy and sowing distrust in the election process.
It remains to be seen how these lawsuits will play out, but they serve as a warning to media outlets everywhere to uphold journalistic standards and take responsibility for the information they disseminate.
- What was the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against Fox News about?
- Dominion Voting Systems sued Fox News for knowingly broadcasting false claims that Dominion’s technology was used to rig the 2020 election of Joe Biden.
- How much did Fox News settle with Dominion Voting Systems for?
- Fox News settled with Dominion Voting Systems for £633m ($788m).
- What is the Smartmatic USA lawsuit against Fox News about?
- Smartmatic USA is suing Fox News for similar claims related to the 2020 election.
- How much could Rupert Murdoch’s legal bill exceed?
- Analysts suggest that the overall cost of legal action could exceed £1bn.
- What do these lawsuits highlight in terms of media ethics?
- The lawsuits highlight the importance of responsible journalism and media ethics, as media outlets must take responsibility for the impact of their stories.