Fox News settles lawsuit for $787.5m after spreading fake news about Donald Trump’s election defeat

Fox News

Fox News has agreed to pay $787.5m (about £633m) to end a lawsuit over its US election coverage in 2020.

The right-wing news corporation has agreed to pay the settlement to electronic ballot company Dominion Voting Systems ahead of a defamation trial, which was due to begin.

While the settlement pay-out is significant, it’s much less than the $1.6 billion (£1.26 billion) originally sought by Dominion when it filed the lawsuit in March 2021.

The software development company sued Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corp, over the channel’s coverage of the 2020 US election where it effectively accused Dominion of rigging the vote.

Fox News is facing a similar lawsuit from electronic ballot firm Smartmatic for what is described as a “direct and harmful” impact on its ability to conduct business.

According to statistics uncovered from a November 2022 Axios-Momentive poll, more than 40 per cent of Americans still do not believe president Joe Biden won the 2020 election legitimately.

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‘The truth does not know red or blue’

In a statement, one of Dominion’s lawyers, Justin Nelson, said the sum was about “accountability” and a commitment to facts.

He added: “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 to Dominion and the country.

“This litigation cannot solve all problems, all of us remain ever-vigilant to find common factual ground. Today represents a ringing endorsement for truth and democracy.

“Truth matters,” he said. “Lies have consequences. The truth does not know red or blue. People across the political spectrum can and should disagree on issues, even of the most profound importance. But for our democracy to endure another 250 years and, hopefully, much longer, we must share a commitment to facts.”

While the sum will make a considerable dent in Fox Corporation’s expected net income this year, the company is likely to continue business as usual. In a statement, Fox said the settlement reflects its “continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards”.

According to recent company filings, Fox Corp received net profits of around $1.23 billion (approximately £980 million) last year and is sitting on cash reserves of around $4 billion (£3.18 billion).

Additionally, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Fox’s chief executive – whose empire includes The Wall Street Journal, The Times and The Sun, as well as Sky News Australia – is estimated to have a personal fortune of $17.6 billion (approximately £13.97 billion), according to Forbes.

Media watchdog group Media Matters said that, while the lawsuit was a significant step, the implications of the litigation Fox News faces “can’t be wiped out with money”.

In a statement to PinkNews, the watchdog said: “The network has been completely exposed as a partisan propaganda outlet that is willing to do anything for profit and power. What the Dominion trial offered was as a keyhole view into the day-to-day, industrial-scale deceit that takes place at Fox.

“It helped illustrate why the company is such a uniquely destructive force.”