Fox News Settled with Dominion, but a Bigger Lawsuit Lies Ahead
Fox News has reached a settlement agreement in the defamation lawsuit by Dominion, but they have another larger lawsuit looming on the horizon from Smartmatic.
News broke Tuesday that Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems came to a last-minute settlement deal before what would have been a six-week excoriation of the network and its executives and hosts.
But the legal woes for Fox are far from over.
In fact, the next lawsuit that looms is even larger.
See: DONALD TRUMP APPARENTLY FURIOUS FOX EXECS WON’T PERJURE THEMSELVES TO BOLSTER HIS ELECTION FRAUD CONSPIRACY
Fox News is Done with Dominion, But They Still have to Face Smartmatic
“This was a business survival case! They couldn’t go into another electoral cycle.”
Trial attorney Ken Turkel on the jumbo $787M+ #defamation settlement that has arrived at @dominionvoting.
Plus, what it means for @FoxNews’ $2.7B defamation case with #Smartmatic. pic.twitter.com/vu0siJJmPM
— Julia Chatterley (@jchatterleyCNN) April 19, 2023
On Tuesday, lawyers for Fox News managed to avert a trial spectacle by hammering out an 11th-hour deal with Dominion.
Dominion is a voting technology company that says they were defamed by Fox hosts in the weeks after the 2020 election.
Hosts and executives have offered somewhat competing defenses to the court during depositions.
Executives have said that it was clear that there was no voting system fraud and that hosts said what they did to bolster a political candidate – Donald Trump – at his behest.
NPR reports, “In a pre-trial ruling this month, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis asserted there is no question that the contested statements Fox aired about Dominion were false.
Thousands of text messages and email exchanges revealed in legal documents show that Fox personalities and executives knew the claims their hosts and guests blasted on air were false.
Two of those guests were Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer at the time, and Sidney Powell, a Trump ally and attorney. (Dominion has separately sued both Giuliani and Powell but there have been no rulings in either of those cases.)
Both appeared dozens of times across Fox programming in the weeks following the election and peddled baseless conspiratorial claims, including that Dominion had financial ties to California Democrats and that the company was created to rig elections in favor of the late-Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.”
Dominion was suing for $1.6B in damages, but the deal awarded them $787M.
While it’s a pretty chunk of change for Fox to have to fork out, it avoids for now the spectacle of putting hosts and executives on the stand in front of a drama-hungry public.
But they didn’t avoid it altogether, because there’s an even larger lawsuit on the horizon: Smartmatic.
Eyes Eagerly Turn to Smartmatic
“It’s completely and utterly surreal. None of these lies have been sustained to any extent.” Chris Krebs, former CISA director and CBS News contributor, tells @andersoncooper about the 2020 election, which he calls the most secure in American history. https://t.co/pIZpyniquF pic.twitter.com/Kt5TagqAVv
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) October 23, 2022
For years, Fox has publicly offered itself as a common-sense “fair and balanced” approach to news, while a skeptical public remains split on the value of the company.
The Dominion lawsuit provided people a chance to see executives and hosts address some of their boldest claims on the stand – where they can’t lie – and admit that they were either intentionally misleading or outright false when presenting news of the 2020 election.
It was something that critics of Fox were eager to see happen, and even fans were curious about the outcome.
Now, that won’t happen – in the Dominion case.
The Washington Post reports, “[Fox] also faces a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit filed by another voting technology company, Smartmatic, that alleges Fox broadcast lies that ‘decimated’ its business.
In a nearly 300-page complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court in February 2021, Smartmatic alleges that Fox News knowingly made ‘over 100 false statements and implications’ about the company, amplifying false information from former president Donald Trump and his allies that Smartmatic played a role in his election loss. In February, a New York appeals court ruled that the case be allowed to proceed.
After Fox News’s $787.5 million settlement with Dominion was announced Tuesday, Smartmatic attorney J. Erik Connolly released a statement.
‘Dominion’s litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign. Smartmatic will expose the rest,’ Connolly said. ‘Smartmatic remains committed to clearing its name, recouping the significant damage done to the company, and holding Fox accountable for undermining democracy.’”
A Fox spokeswoman released a statement Wednesday, responding, ““We will be ready to defend this case surrounding extremely newsworthy events when it goes to trial, likely in 2025. As a report prepared by our financial expert shows, Smartmatic’s damages claims are implausible, disconnected from reality, and on its face intended to chill First Amendment freedoms.”
The Smartmatic case is lagging behind Dominion and is still in the discovery phase, so there’s a long way to go before they appear in court for trial.
However, there are some key differences that make the Smartmatic case interesting.
One, the requested sum is much larger – Fox will be less likely to find a comfortable settlement number to walk away from the lawsuit.
And two, Smartmatic demanded a retraction from Fox in December 2020. Fox then aired a small segment on several shows aimed to clear up misinformation about the voting company.
But it was inadequate, and Smartmatic filed the lawsuit shortly thereafter.
That means they’ve already attempted an equitable remedy, and Fox fell short.
While that doesn’t guarantee there will be a different outcome with Smartmatic than there was with Dominion, it adds an element to the upcoming trial that could make things interesting.