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Fox, Dominion Voting agree to settlement in defamation case

Fox will pay more than $787 million to avoid a trial, which was scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Fox will pay more than $787 million to avoid a trial, which was scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Fox Corporation and Dominion Voting Systems have agreed to a settlement in a highly-anticipated defamation suit brought more than two years ago.

The case was settled shortly after a jury was seated in the defamation trial, which was slated to start with opening arguments on Tuesday.

After a brief lunch break, a federal judge overseeing the lawsuit thanked the jury for their service and dismissed them for the remainder of the case, according to reporters who were inside the courtroom at the time.

The settlement includes a payment of $787.5 million paid to Dominion Voting Systems in order to end the case, according to a report from CNBC. Fox will not have to issue a written or verbal apology, or retract any statements made by on-air talent or guests, as part of the settlement. Dominion Voting Systems originally sought more than $1.6 billion in damages.

“We are pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute with Dominion Voting Systems,” a Fox News Media spokesperson said in a statement e-mailed to The Desk. “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 case centered around commentary made by some key Fox News on-air talent about the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Dominion said some Fox News talent brought on guests who inaccurately portrayed its voting systems as flawed, leading to a victory for Democratic contender Joe Biden, who won the election.

The coverage fueled conspiracy theories about the outcome of the election, with some followers of former U.S. President Donald Trump claiming the election was “rigged” and the outcome was “wrong.” Evidence unearthed during the deposition process proved Fox News producers and on-air hosts knew some allegations levied by its guests were factually inaccurate, but still allowed those perspectives to flourish on Fox News programs.

Earlier this month, the judge overseeing the case said there was no doubt the commentary offered on the Fox News programs in question contained wrong information, but left it up to a jury to decide if Fox News and its employees acted with “actual malice” in allowing the conspiracies on its air.

A jury was seated Tuesday for the start of the trial, which media experts said could have far-reaching implications on news outlets beyond Fox.

In a press conference outside the Delaware court where the trial was to be held, Domnion Voting CEO John Poulos said the settlement affirmed Fox News knew it was misleading viewers about the outcome of the 2020 election.

“Fox has admitted to telling lies about Dominion that caused enormous damage to my company, our employees and the customers that we serve,” Poulos said. “Nothing can ever make up for that. Throughout this process, we have sought accountability and believe the evidence brought to light through this case underscores the consequences of spreading lies.”

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).