On Tuesday, Fox Corp and its subsidiary Fox News came to an out-of-court settlement with Dominion Voting Systems in order to avoid a lengthy legal battle, agreeing to pay the controversial company $787.5 million.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, the last-minute settlement came after the jury had just been seated in the planned trial, with opening statements scheduled for the same day before the settlement was announced.
“Fox has admitted to telling lies about Dominion that caused enormous damage to my company, our employees, and the customers that we serve,” Dominion CEO John Poulos claimed at a news conference after the settlement.
The case stemmed from Fox News’ coverage of the 2020 election, during which there were widespread and credible allegations of voter fraud that benefited Joe Biden’s campaign and harmed President Donald Trump’s re-election bid. In some coverage by Fox hosts and guests, Dominion and its newly-implemented voting machines received scrutiny for alleged involvement in schemes to switch votes in favor of Biden.
The lawsuit, first filed in 2021, originally sought $1.6 billion in damages from Fox, which reported $14 billion in revenue just last year. The case would be presided over by Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis, who was appointed to his seat by former Governor Jack Markell (D-Del.), a Democrat.
“We acknowledge the court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false,” Fox said in a statement. “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.”
Had the case gone to trial, the jury would be faced with the question of whether or not Fox’s coverage qualified as defamation, in that the network and its hosts and guests knowingly spread false information. Dominion lawyers have since claimed to have discovered internal text messages that appear to show Fox higher-ups admitting to having no proof of Dominion’s involvement in vote manipulation; among these were, allegedly, Rupert Murdoch, the 92-year-old chairman of Fox Corp, and Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity.
Fox is still facing another legal challenge of a similar nature by Smartmatic, another company that focuses on voting technology, seeking $2.7 billion in damages. Dominion is also suing One America News Network (OAN), another conservative news channel, for similar coverage of voter fraud in 2020.