Dominion has settled with Fox News for a stunning $787.5 million. The settlement appears to not require any on air admissions by Fox that it lied. Fox “acknowledged” that a judge found Fox’s allegations false, but did so without admitting the judge’s conclusions were true.
All this has (understandably) greatly disappointed many who expected (as I did) enormous mea culpas from Fox to be part of any settlement. However, as I think this through, from a lawyer’s perspective, such a settlement would be extremely difficult for Fox to make at this time. It must still deal with a $2.6 billion lawsuit from Smartmatic, and to make public admissions for essentially the same lies was, for Fox, a legal impracticality at this time.
So Fox traded not having to make such admissions (at this time) for money, a lot of money. A whole lot of money. Let’s talk about how much money. It’s more than half a year’s net income for the entire Fox system, not just Fox News. That’s Fox News, Fox Sports, the Fox regular TV station, and whatever else they have. And, as stated, Fox still has to deal with the Smartmatic lawsuit, from a greatly weakened position.
It’s even more money from Dominion’s perspective. As in 20 freaking years of gross revenue worth of money, not profits, gross revenue.
Given that Dominion had only $40 million in gross income going into this, do you you really think a jury would have found $787.5 million in damages against Fox? Almost certainly not. Dominion got a lot more money from this than it would have at trial.
For those upset that the American people will not get the vindication of truth they deserve I offer three gentle responses.
First, Dominion’s lawyers do not represent the interests of the American people. Their ethical obligation is to their client, and more precisely, Dominion’s shareholders/owners. To be an owner of Dominion tonight is to be in a very happy place.
Second, the Smartmatic lawsuit remains. Without the concern for creating more liability in settlement with Smartmatic, Fox may well be willing to trade mea culpas for cash. After all, it is a bit cash short now.
Third, $787.5 million is a whole lot of mea, even if short a bit of culpa. The massive settlement speaks for itself. Fox did not pay nearly a billion dollars because it told the truth.