A bombshell $787m settlement has been reached in the defamation trial between Dominion Voting Systems and Fox News.
The settlement ended a dispute over whether the network and its parent company knowingly broadcast false and outlandish allegations that Dominion was involved in a plot to steal the 2020 election.
Dominion sued Fox News in 2021, demanding $1.6 billion in damages. It said the network defamed it when it broadcast baseless claims that it was tied to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, that it paid kickbacks to politicians and that its machines “rigged” the 2020 presidential election by flipping millions of votes for Trump to Joe Biden. Dominion’s lawyers claimed that the supposed falsehoods about the company were repeated to the point of being institutionalised.
The settlement came before scheduled opening statements and after an unexpected lengthy delay Tuesday afternoon just after the jury was sworn in. Neither party immediately disclosed the terms of the settlement other than the dollar amount, and attorneys for Dominion declined to answer questions about whether it requires Fox to issue a retraction or a formal apology.
The trial had been been due to begin at 1.30pm with opening statements, but the start was delayed for nearly two and a half hours as attorneys for both parties engaged in last-minute negotiations.
In a statement released to address the settlement, Fox News fell short of taking accountability of its 2020 presidential election coverage.
“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 settlement amount of $787,500,000, is the second largest in US history.
Dominion is however not the only voting machine company suing Fox. London-headquartered Smartmatic, a multinational firm that makes electronic voting systems, is also pursuing a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox in the New York Supreme Court.