Fox News, Dominion Voting settle 2020 election claim case for $788 million

The decision to settle also followed a ruling by the judge last month that Fox could not invoke free speech protections under the US Constitution in its defence.

Fox News is the most-watched US cable news network, according to Nielsen.

Rupert Murdoch.

Rupert Murdoch.Credit: Rob Homer

The primary question for jurors was to be whether Fox knowingly spread false information or recklessly disregarded the truth, the standard of “actual malice” that Dominion must show to prevail in a defamation case.

In February court filings, Dominion cited a trove of internal communications in which Murdoch and other Fox figures privately acknowledged that the vote-rigging claims made about Dominion on-air were false.

Dominion said Fox amplified the untrue claims to boost its ratings and prevent its viewers from migrating to other media competitors on the right including One America News Network, which Dominion is suing separately.


Adding to the legal risks for Fox, another US voting technology company, Smartmatic, is pursuing its own defamation lawsuit seeking $US2.7 billion in damages in a New York state court. Fox Corp reported nearly $US14 billion in annual revenue last year.

Fox had argued that claims by Trump and his lawyers about the election were inherently newsworthy and protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment.

Davis ruled in March that Fox could not use those arguments, finding its coverage was false, defamatory and not protected by the First Amendment.

Dominion in 2021 sued Fox Corp and Fox News, contending that its business was ruined by the false vote-rigging claims that were aired by the influential American cable news outlet known for its roster of conservative commentators.


The trial was to have been a test of whether Fox’s coverage crossed the line between ethical journalism and the pursuit of ratings, as Dominion alleges and Fox denies. Fox had portrayed itself in the pretrial skirmishing as a defender of press freedom.

The complaints referenced instances in which Trump allies including his former lawyers Rudolph Giuliani and Sidney Powell appeared on Fox News to advance the false allegations about Dominion.

Dominion obtained internal communications and testimony from Murdoch and other Fox News executives and commentators. Murdoch internally described the election-rigging claims as “really crazy” and “damaging” but declined to wield his editorial power to stop them and conceded under oath that some Fox hosts nonetheless “endorsed” the baseless claims, Dominion told the court in a filing.

When Murdoch watched Giuliani and Powell make their claims about Dominion on November 19, he characterised them to Fox News Chief Executive Suzanne Scott as “terrible stuff damaging everybody, I fear,” according to the filing.

Under questioning from a Dominion lawyer, Murdoch testified that he thought everything about the election was on the “up-and-up” and doubted the rigging claims from the very beginning, according to Dominion’s filing.

Asked if he could have intervened to stop Giuliani from continuing to spread falsehoods on air, Murdoch responded, “I could have. But I didn’t,” the filing said.


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