By Peter Melahn, Staff Writer
Fox News agreed to a $787.5 million private settlement with Dominion Voting Systems on April 18 to resolve a defamation suit filed by the voting machine manufacturing mogul in response to claims of election fraud by the media giant throughout the 2020 presidential election. This marked the largest publicly-known media settlement.
In the original $1.6 billion lawsuit, Dominion’s allegations were mainly based around accusations that Fox News damaged the voting company’s business after the news network spread false claims that its machines falsified election results by switching votes from Donald Trump to current President Joe Biden.
Though the suit was filed two years ago, the historic settlement emerged as opening statements were set to commence. Fox News agreed to the settlement terms last minute in a move that some suspect occurred to avoid a drawn-out yet highly anticipated trial. It is believed a trial would have brought to light more damaging information regarding the media company, tarnishing its public image and perceived viewership trust.
Members of the public gathered in Wilmington, Del., where the trial was set to take place, and were both surprised and disappointed at the news of the settlement, as many were hoping to witness a historic litigation. The suit was one of the largest defamation suits in U.S. history and sets the tone for other defamation suits that Dominion elects to file as the voting machine manufacturer seeks to defend its reputation.
“We have sought accountability and believe the evidence brought to light through this case underscores the consequences of spreading and endorsing lies,” Chief Executive of Dominion John Poulos stated after the settlement was announced.
Fox claims that the rhetoric alleging that votes were falsified was included among broader claims by then-incumbent President Trump that the election was stolen. The 2020 election caused widespread controversy, and disputes surrounding the fairness of the election were unprecedented. Trump continues to refute guarantees that the 2020 election was conducted in a fair, procedural manner.
The calling-off of the trial comes as the U.S. and countries throughout the world seek closure on the tumult of arguments surrounding the highly contentious election. The settlement has garnered much attention, with many seeing the settlement as a concession by Fox and an indirect acknowledgement that it has manufactured false information to mislead the public in the past.
In the wake of new information coming to light about Fox and its practices, long-time host Tucker Carlson announced Monday that he stepped down from his position at the corporation. Carlson, known to be one of the more ostentatious personalities in modern conservative media, made the announcement Monday after his final appearance last Friday.
Private communications in which Carlson allegedly criticized the Fox administration were a prominent part of his decision to leave as more information became public during the settlement process with Dominion. Carlson was the news network’s most viewed prime-time host.
Although Fox is believed to currently have access to funds far exceeding what the settlement calls for, it is presumed that the media company will not be forced to pay the sum in full by exploiting various loopholes which exist in the process.
“Today’s settlement of $787.5 million represents vindication and accountability,” Justin Nelson, a lawyer representing Dominion throughout the case’s process and subsequent settlement, said.
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