The settlement reached in the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News may be good for the news corporation as it saves them from public scrutiny, according to legal experts.
On Tuesday, a settlement in the ongoing lawsuit was reached with Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis announcing that the “case has been resolved,” which occurred prior to the opening statements in the trial between Dominion Voting Systems and Fox News corporation. A lawyer for Dominion Voting Systems said on Tuesday that the settlement was for over $700 million.
The lawsuit by Dominion was sparked after Fox News and its anchors allegedly made false claims on-air about the 2020 election results. The lawsuit also alleged that anchors on Fox News promoted former President Donald Trump’s claims that the election was stolen and that ballots cast through Dominion Voting Systems were “flipped” from Trump to Biden.
Michael McAuliffe, an elected state attorney in Florida and former federal prosecutor told Newsweek on Tuesday, “A settlement makes sense for Dominion if the resolution includes both a significant monetary payment and an explicit acknowledgment that the statements highlighted in the lawsuit were false.”
“For Fox News, the settlement is the preferred outcome because it can avoid a prolonged and public display of its internal machinations about the false statements and its decision to broadcast the false statements anyway. A settlement also avoids a legal judgment against Fox that was possible, even likely, if a jury heard the defamation case and reached a verdict,” McAuliffe told Newsweek.
Neama Rahmani, the President of West Coast Trial lawyers and former federal prosecutor also told Newsweek that he wasn’t surprised with the outcome and noted, “The writing was on the wall and it wasn’t a question of whether Fox would lose the lawsuit, but how badly.”
“The judge had already ruled that the network’s statements were false and that they were not newsworthy and protected by the First Amendment. The court had also ordered Rupert Murdoch and his son to testify, in what would have been an embarrassing cross-examination for Fox’s chairman,” Rahmani told Newsweek.
In a statement sent to Newsweek via email, Fox News said, “We are pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute with Dominion Voting Systems. 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. 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.”
John Poulos, the CEO of Dominion, also issued a statement following the ruling which said, “Fox has admitted to telling lies about Dominion that caused enormous damage to my Company, our employees, and our customers.”
“Truthful reporting in the media is essential to our democracy. Dominion, our employees and our partners are grateful to the court for allowing the process for the truth to come out,” the statement, which was sent to Newsweek via email, added.