Fox settles defamation case for $787.5 million

Dominion Voting Systems sued Fox for $1.6bn for broadcasting misinformation about results of 2020 elections

Lawyers for Fox News arrive at the court in Delaware. AFP
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A legal battle between Fox News and Dominion, a voting machine company that accuses the network of knowingly spreading misinformation about the 2020 presidential election results began on Tuesday, only to be settled a few hours later, averting a trial.

In a news conference, Dominion lawyer Justin Nelson said Fox agreed to pay $787.5 million in damages.

“The truth matters, lies have consequences,” Mr Nelson said. "Money is accountability and we got that today from Fox."

The development settles a $1.6bn defamation case filed by Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News, America's most popular cable news network, sought to hold it to account after presenters repeatedly said voting machines were rigged in favour of Democrat Joe Biden over then-president Donald Trump.

After the announcement, Fox issued a statement saying it was "pleased to have reached a settlement".

"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," the statement said.

"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 civil trial comes more than two years after Dominion first accused Fox of “intentionally and falsely” airing misinformation about the company to appeal to its conservative viewers.

Mr Trump continues to insist that the 2020 election was stolen from him, and that he was the winner.

Without evidence, he and his supporters continue to spout fraud conspiracy theories about how the votes were tallied. Such claims have been debunked.

Fox had argued that its statements about Dominion are protected by the First Amendment under the US Constitution, which protects freedom of speech.

Fox said its claims on air, many of which were made by well-known newscasters and commentators, were not intentional and had no “actual malice” — a crucial requirement to meet the legal definition for defamation.

Updated: April 19, 2023, 4:39 PM