Fox News has settled with Dominion Voting Systems for over $787 million, marking the largest media defamation settlement in history. The settlement was reached just hours before the defamation trial was set to begin in a Delaware court. The settlement protects Fox executives from having to testify in court about their role in the network's airing of 2020 election lies.
"The parties have resolved their case," said Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis to the jury after more than two hours of opening statements. In a statement following the settlement decision, Fox News acknowledged that it aired falsehoods, which could have implications for other defamation cases it faces. "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," the company said.
Although Fox will not have to give any apologies or retractions on its air as a part of the settlement deal, Dominion's lawyers held a press briefing outside the courthouse where they announced that Fox News will pay over $787 million to the company. Dominion lawyers had a strong case against Fox, and the judge overseeing the trial had already ruled that Fox News made false statements before the trial even started.
Fox News executives and lawyers immediately left the courthouse after the decision was announced and did not take questions from the press. The settlement deal prevents Fox from having to face potentially incriminating and embarrassing evidence being made public during a trial. Fox faces several other defamation lawsuits, most notably a $2.7 billion case brought by election technology company Smartmatic.
Legal experts believed that Fox would have faced an uphill battle in court, given how strong Dominion's case was. Convincing a jury that Dominion should receive damages amounting to $1.6 billion, which is the total amount it sued Fox for, may have been much more difficult. "Dominion Voting Systems seems to want its reputation restored as well as large monetary damages, so any settlement would need to satisfy both these concerns in order to reach an agreement," said University of Tennessee journalism professor Stuart Brotman.