Fox News has issued a statement on its settlement with Dominion Voting Systems acknowledging that some of the right-wing network’s on-air statements about Dominion were false.
“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,” the statement said.
For context: The statement was referring to Judge Eric Davis’ recent ruling that 20 Fox News broadcasts from late 2020 contained blatantly untrue assertions that Dominion rigged the presidential election. But Fox won’t have to admit on-air that it spread lies about Dominion, a Dominion representative told CNN.
The settlement between Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems totals $787,500,000, according to Dominion attorney Justin Nelson.
The settlement represents “vindication and accountability,” Nelson said in a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
“The truth matters, lies have consequences,” Nelson said
“Over two years ago, a torrent of lies swept Dominion and election officials across America into an alternative universe of conspiracy theories, causing grievous harm,” Nelson added.
Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis praised both sides after they abruptly settled the defamation case between Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems at the last second.
He said, “I have been on the bench since 2010… I think this is the best lawyering I’ve had, ever.”
“I would be proud to be your judge in the future,” Davis said, his final words before leaving the bench.
The hearing is now over. The case is now over.
A last-second settlement has been reached in Dominion Voting Systems’ historic defamation lawsuit against Fox News, the parties announced Tuesday in court.
“The parties have resolved their case,” Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis said. “Your presence here… was extremely important. And without you, the parties would not have been able to resolve their situation,” the judge told the jurors, before dismissing them.
The settlement was apparently brokered while the trial was on the brink of opening statements in Wilmington, Delaware.
After swearing in the jury earlier Tuesday, an unexplained hours-long delay paused proceedings in court, which yet again triggered rampant speculation that a deal was quietly in the works.
What this means: The last-minute deal means the closely watched case is effectively over and won’t proceed to trial. By settling with Dominion, influential Fox News executives and prominent on-air personalities will be spared from testifying about their 2020 election coverage, which was filled with lies about voter fraud.
Details of the settlement were not immediately available and might never become public.
More on the case: In its lawsuit, Dominion sought $1.6 billion in damages from Fox News. The right-wing network argued vociferously in pretrial proceedings that this number was inflated and didn’t come close to accurately capturing the potential losses that Dominion could have suffered as a result of Fox’s 2020 broadcasts.
Fox News and Fox Corporation — its parent company, which was also a defendant — say they never defamed Dominion, and say the case is a meritless assault on press freedoms. They denied Dominion’s claim that they promoted these election conspiracies to save their falling ratings after the 2020 election.
While the Dominion case is now over, Fox News is still facing a second major defamation lawsuit from Smartmatic, another voting technology company that was smeared on Fox shows after the 2020 election. That case is still in the discovery process, and a trial isn’t expected anytime soon.
The Fox-Dominion trial has resumed, after an unexplained delay of more than two hours.
The unexplained delay in the Fox News-Dominion defamation trial has surpassed 90 minutes.
Moments ago in court, CNN observed a top Fox lawyer showing a piece of paper —presumably a note — to a top Dominion lawyer.
A few minutes later, they both stepped out of the courtroom, into a private, secured area for court staff. Moments later, they walked back into court together. It is not known what they privately discussed, if anything.
The lawyers — Fox attorney Dan Webb and Dominion attorney Justin Nelson —subsequently huddled at Dominion’s table for a few minutes, in public view. They were talking to each other, but it is not known what they are saying.
Both men are now sitting at their respective tables, looking at their phones.
This comes ahead of the expected opening statements in the $1.6 billion defamation trial against Fox News.
Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis has formally named a special master to investigate whether Fox News withheld evidence from Dominion Voting Systems, according to court filings.
CNN reported last week that the judge was likely to launch this inquiry, which revolves around whether Fox intentionally suppressed evidence that it was legally obligated to provide to Dominion. The dispute escalated after audiotapes emerged of Fox host Maria Bartiromo talking to Rudy Giuliani in 2020.
“The investigation should include a determination whether Fox News Network, LLC and Fox Corporation complied with their discovery obligations,” Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis wrote.
The order, which was posted on the docket earlier in the day as jury selection began in the trial, directed attorney John Elzufon to lead the inquiry. Elzufon previously served as special master to handle routine evidentiary issues in the case.
Elzufon is required to finish his probe and submit a report by May 15.
The judge’s order indicates that the special master has the power to take depositions as part of his inquiry – and the special master will be allowed to depose anyone he thinks is appropriate.
Fox is required to pay for all expenses related to the investigation, according to Davis’ order.
Fox lawyers say they never withheld anything from Dominion, and that when new evidence emerged at a late stage, they turned it over as quickly as possible.
The court in the Dominion-Fox defamation trial reconvened as planned at 1:30 p.m. ET in Wilmington, Delaware, after a lunch break, but there has been an unexplained slowdown in the proceedings.
The trial has not yet moved to opening statements, though that is expected next.
Lawyers for both sides have been present in the courtroom since things reconvened about one hour ago.
They have been looking at their phones, talking among their colleagues and waiting.
The jury is not inside the courtroom.
The court is back in session after a lunch break and opening statements are expected to begin soon in the historic defamation lawsuit brought by election technology company Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News.
Here’s what you need to know about the high-stakes case:
Why is Dominion suing Fox News? Dominion sued Fox News in 2021 over the right-wing network’s repeated promotion of false claims about the company, including that its voting machines rigged the 2020 election by flipping millions of ballots from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. Most of the 20 allegedly defamatory broadcasts mentioned in the lawsuit occurred in November and December 2020.
The company alleges that people at Fox News acted with actual malice and “recklessly disregarded the truth” when they spread this disinformation about Dominion. To prove “actual malice,” Dominion must convince a jury that people at Fox News who were responsible for these 20 broadcasts knew the Dominion claims were false or recklessly disregarded evidence of falsity — but put them on-air anyway.
According to Dominion’s theory of the case, Fox promoted these election conspiracy theories because “the lies were good for Fox’s business.” Dominion’s suit specifically zeroed in on shows hosted by Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Jeanine Pirro. Dominion said that as a result of Fox’s “orchestrated defamatory campaign” it has suffered “enormous and irreparable economic harm” and that its employees have been subjected to death threats and harassment.
What is Fox’s defense? Fox said it didn’t defame anyone and that the case is a meritless assault on press freedoms.
A spokesperson for Fox has said the network “is proud of our 2020 election coverage” and that its coverage “stands in the highest tradition of American journalism.” The company said, “Dominion’s lawsuit is a political crusade in search of a financial windfall, but the real cost would be cherished First Amendment rights.”
Fox has also accused Dominion of generating “noise and confusion” around the case, stating, “the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution,” specifically the First Amendment.
Fox has attempted to get the lawsuit tossed. But in a major blow to the right-wing network last month, the judge overseeing the case has allowed it to go to trial. He has also prohibited Fox from invoking some key First Amendment defenses, finding they were without merit.
What is Dominion asking for? Dominion is seeking $1.6 billion in damages. They say Fox’s on-air lies destroyed its reputation and is causing election officials to cancel their Dominion contracts. CNN recently reported on the growing distrust in voting machines in heavily Republican counties.
What are the trial logistics? The trial is expected to last five to six weeks and will be overseen by Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis, who was appointed to the state bench in 2012 by a Democratic governor. A panel of 12 jurors and 12 alternates is being seated.
Cameras are not allowed in the courtroom and there will not be any video of the proceedings. There also won’t be any still photography inside the courtroom.
Who is expected to testify? Expected witness include Fox Corporation executives Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan Murdoch; Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and president Jay Wallace; prominent TV hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro, and Bret Baier, among others.
Dominion said it might also call Viet Dinh, Fox’s chief legal officer, and former House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Fox board member, to the witness stand.
Both sides are also hoping to put on testimony from their handpicked experts who specialize in election statistics, the security of voting machines, journalism ethics, the impact of disinformation in public discourse, and more.
Read more about the case here.