On the surface, Fox News floundered.
Rupert Murdoch, its founder, agreed to a larger settlement of $787.5 million, about two-thirds of Fox Corp.’s net annual income. Former President Donald J. Fox News was embarrassed by reports that its anchors personally despised Trump. Dominion Voting Systems, the election technology company that mocked the Fox airwaves, declared victory on the courthouse steps Tuesday.
Yet for some Murdoch critics, the outcome of the landmark defamation case is nothing to celebrate.
“Rupert Wins Again” declared Politico columnist Jake Shafer, Mr. He noted Murdoch’s long history of paying millions of dollars to settle phone hacking, workplace harassment and other scandals.
“Country lost, democracy lost,” First Amendment lawyer Martin Corpus wrote in an email, predicting that Tucker Carlson and Maria Bartiromo will be hailed by conservatives as “heroes” who “stood up against the liberal world.”
Others lamented the loss of opportunity for legal accountability for the disinformation that poisoned so many Americans’ faith in the democratic process.
“A great victory for democracy? I don’t know about that,” said MSNBC host Joy Reid, who told viewers that Fox News “doesn’t have to have their stars take the witness stand and answer questions about those embarrassing speeches and revelations.”
Three quarters of a billion dollars is Mr. Not a small sum, even for Murdoch, and Fox is still facing a similar defamation suit from another election firm, Smartmatic, which is seeking $2.7 billion in damages. (Dominion initially sought $1.6 billion.) The network has often argued that its newsroom is insulated from ideological forces, but the emails revealed in the case show that Mr. It made it clear that they condemned their own journalists who tried to fact-check Trump.
However, Fox News aired an on-air apology for unsubstantiated claims about Dominion in the 2020 presidential election, with Joseph R. Fox News is not required by the terms of the contract to prove that it attempted to commit fraud in favor of Biden Jr. . Of the whistleblowers cited in the lawsuit, all but Lou Dobbs are employed. Fox’s public statement on Tuesday was unapologetic about the settlement.
“We agree with the court’s rulings that certain claims about Dominion were false,” the network wrote, adding that despite Murdochian, “the settlement reflects Fox’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.” (That line prompted CNN host Jake Tapper to tell his audience that “it’s hard to say with a straight face.”)
The settlement was a victory for Dominion, a nonprofit that argued Fox’s coverage had destroyed its reputation and future earnings. John Poulos, Dominion’s chief executive, praised the decision during an interview Wednesday on ABC News. Only need to fry Host George Stephanopoulos pointed out, “What you don’t get is forgiveness.”
“There was an acknowledgment — certainly not the way I wrote it — that I had some conversations with our team, my co-founder and myself, and at the end of the day, the court system is really about accountability,” Mr. Poulos replied calmly. He added: “For us it wasn’t really about Fox. It was about telling the truth and the media telling the truth.
His words echoed those of Stephen Shackelford, one of Dominion’s leading lawyers, who on Tuesday said Mr. Murdoch argued that the amount of the fine paid was a form of calculation.
“Money is responsibility” he told reporters“We got it from Fox today.”
The sighting on Fox News — where the Dominion case was an overblown spectacle fueled by the channel’s dedicated critics — was voiced in part by the network’s media correspondent Howard Kurtz on two afternoon shows on Tuesday about the settlement. (The case was not mentioned during the network’s most-watched prime-time hours.)
Mr. Kurtz said on the broadcast: “Most of the media was looking forward to six weeks — obviously, there are a lot of people in the mainstream media who are anti-Fox, who are losing Fox. They’re going to miss that opportunity now, and the rest of us can go home.
So far, no reporters at Fox News have disclosed the specific $787.5 million figure to the network’s audience. Mr. Kurtz and others said on air that when Dominion revealed a dollar amount, they could not personally confirm it.
On Wall Street, investors were largely unfazed by the outcome. Fox’s stock was down a little more than 2 percent in morning trading Wednesday. SVB MoffettNathanson, a research firm, wrote in an analyst note on Wednesday that “the impact of these lawsuits on Fox News’ audience and business remains unclear.”
“The network is a key growth driver for the enterprise as a whole,” the note concluded.
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