Fox News Just Blinked

Fox News agreed to a $787.5 million last-minute settlement to avoid a defamation trial with Dominion Voting Systems over its 2020 election lies.
Cameron Joseph
Washington, US
Tucker Carlson during 2022 FOX Nation Patriot Awards at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood on November 17, 2022 in Hollywood, Florida. (Photo: Jason Koerner/Getty Images

Fox News just agreed to a massive last-minute settlement with Dominion Voting Systems to avoid a blockbuster defamation trial over allegations it had and repeatedly pushed lies that the 2020 election was rigged against then-President Donald Trump that its leadership knew to be false.

The network agreed to pay Dominion, which makes voting machines, $787.5 million to avoid more embarrassment and potential liability in the case. Dominion had originally asked for $1.6 billion in damages.


Fox News admitted in a statement following the settlement that it had aired false claims about Dominion in pushing conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.

“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.”

Dominion CEO John Poulos called it a “historic settlement.”

“Fox has admitted to telling lies about Dominion that caused enormous damage to my company, our employees, and our customers. Nothing can ever make up for that,” he said in a statement.

“Money is accountability and we got that today from Fox,” Dominion attorney Stephen Shackleford told reporters after the settlement was announced. 

“The parties have resolved their case and that means your service is done,” Judge Eric Davis told the jury on Tuesday afternoon.

The settlement came just as the highly anticipated trial was set to begin. Jury selection had completed and Davis had set a short lunch recess before the opposing sides were set to deliver opening statements. But he didn’t return at the 1:30 p.m. start time, and the court stood in recess for two and a half hours as the Fox and Dominion lawyers scrambled to complete a last-minute settlement. 


During that break, Judge Davis officially appointed an outside special master to investigate whether Fox had sufficiently produced required the documents during the trial’s discovery phase, a move made after he upbraided Fox’s attorneys last week for not saying that Murdoch has an official corporate title, which could have opened up access to more of his private communications for Dominion. 

The trial has already been a massive embarrassment for Fox News, making it clear that the network was more worried about losing right-wing viewers who were furious at their coverage in the immediate aftermath of the election than in sticking to basic facts. Emails made public show that Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott had warned staff in December 2020 that on-air fact-checks of Trump’s election lies were “bad for business” and had “to stop now.”

Fox News spokeswoman Alexandra Coscia argued that Scott's email was referencing on-air fighting between hosts rather than the fact-check itself. “This was not about fact checking - the issue at hand was one host calling out another," Coscia told VICE News in an email.

The pre-trial discovery phase also exposed emails from Murdoch himself, in which he called Giuliani’s press conference where he and Powell launched the Dominion falsehoods“Stupid and damaging” and called him and Trump “increasingly mad.”


Fox News Host Tucker Carlson was even blunter, stating “Sidney Powell is lying” and saying that he “passionately” hated Trump in private messages exposed by the lawsuit.

“We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights,” Carlson wrote on Jan 4, 2021. “I truly can’t wait.”

A former Fox News producer who is now suing the network has also claimed that Fox’s lawyers pressured her to give false testimony, deleted messages from her phone and withheld other evidence from Dominion—including  audio recordings of her former boss, Fox News Host Maria Bartiromo, talking off-air with Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, then-President Trump’s attorneys who led the charge to push the conspiracy theory that Dominion had rigged the 2020 election against Trump.

Giuliani, Powell and other Trump allies had pushed wild, false conspiracy theories that Dominion Voting Systems was created by Venezuela’s left-wing dictator and were rigged to flip votes from Trump to Joe Biden to steal the election from Trump.

Some Fox News hosts parroted those claims or gave them airtime even after they were widely debunked, opening up the network to the defamation suit.

The settlement is a costly result for Fox News. But they’re not out of the woods yet. Smartmatic, another voting system company at the center of Giuliani and Powell’s conspiracy theories, is also suing Fox, and its lawyers have promised to bring even more new facts to light to show how the network knowingly pushed lies about the 2020 election.

“Dominion’s litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign,” Smartmatic attorney Erik Connolly said in a statement. “Smartmatic will expose the rest.”