Fox News settled a defamation case with elections technology company, Dominion Voting Systems for US $787.5 million.
Dominion accused Fox and its parent company, Fox Corp (FOXA.O), of damaging its business by publicising claims that its technology was used to rig the 2020 U.S. presidential election in favour of the Democrat and President Joe Biden against the Republicans and former President Donald Trump.
Record settlement for defamation
According to legal experts, Fox and its parent firm Fox Corp decided to opt for an out of court settlement which amounts to half the US $1.6 billion compensation sought by Dominion for defamation. It is still by far a record settlement for defamation in the US media sector.
Fox is one of the world’s most popular cable networks and home to many right-winged commentators. The media group acknowledged that although the court had found “certain claims about Dominion to be false”, it was confident that the settlement without court hearings would help the country “move forward with these issues.”
The network still faces a US $2.7 billion lawsuit from another voting technology company, Smartmatic USA, for its media coverage of election-rigging accusations.
“All of the facts we had discovered during the case had already come to light” John Poulus, CEO – Dominion
However, Fox’s attorneys will be making an assessment of the 2020 election coverage to prepare for a far more damaging defamation case file by another voting technology company. Smartmatic made a separate complaint against Fox’s coverage of the election and are seeking compensation for damages.
Smartmatic is seeking $2.7 billion
Fox is categorically denying all the charges that have been presented. There is speculation that Fox may also settle the litigation out of court with Smarmatic in the same way they negotiated a deal with Dominion.
Smartmatic now has a bargaining chip, and Fox has shown it is willing to take out its checkbook and write a big check. From Fox’s standpoint, now that they realize they can get a successful settlement, they have a basis for a real discussion with Smartmatic.” ” Professor Stuart Brotman, University of Tennessee – Specialist in Media Law.
Smartmatic is suing Fox together with five lawyers of former President Trump for US $2.7 billion in damages.
In Smartmatic’s case filed in New York County Supreme Court, the company argues that the defendants wilfully circulated false allegations that their voting technology and software was used to shift votes. Conspiracy theorists falsely claimed Smartmatic owned Dominion, and many other allegations were made, especially in the aftermath of the election.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Smartmatic attorney J. Erik Connolly stated that the company is dedicated to defending its name, recouping the damage done to it, and “holding Fox accountable for undermining democracy.”
Fox dismisses the charges, responding that the network has the right to report on high-profile allegations of election fraud. It also referred to Smartmatic’s damaging allegations as “outrageous, unsupported, and lacking in sound financial analysis.” Smartmatic allege that Fox “effectively endorsed and participated” in defamation and damaged the company’s reputation.
A former producer of Fox, Abby Grossberg, alleges she was exposed to sexism at Fox and unjustly fired after she objected to what she claims were efforts to pressure her into giving misleading testimony in the Dominion case. Fox has said the allegations are “baseless” and were immediately investigated by outside lawyers. The network also says it will “vigorously” defend itself against all of Grossberg’s claims.
Dominion became one of the largest providers of innovative election technology in the United States by selling, licensing and maintaining products such as its Democracy Suite and ImageCast software. During the 2020 election, the company served 28 states, including many swing states, as well as Puerto Rico.
Dominion was founded in 2002 by current CEO John Poulos and James Hoover. Its headquarters are in Denver, Colorado and it is owned by New York-based private equity firm Staple Street Capital.