5 Takes on the Big Fox News Settlement

Some see the big sum as a deterrent, others see that view as naive
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2023 6:22 AM CDT
Congratulations, Rupert: 5 Takes on Fox Settlement
Rupert Murdoch.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Is it a win for Fox News? Or maybe Dominion? Now that Fox has agreed to pay Dominion Voting Systems $787.5 million for airing false claims about rigged machines, observers are assessing the settlement that avoids a high-profile trial. Some early takes:

  • Win for Murdoch: At Slate, Jack Shafer makes the case that congratulations are in order for Rupert Murdoch. Yes, it's a lot of money, but it's "just the cost of doing business Murdoch-style." He runs a "contaminated" media empire that regularly makes multi-million dollar settlements. In this case, not only does Fox avoid an ugly trial, it apparently won't have to apologize or even admit wrongdoing. "Don't kid yourself" into thinking the large sum will change things. "If you had a machine that tossed off the sort of money Fox does, you wouldn’t tamper with it."

  • Maybe not: The settlement of "$787.5 million is a lot of money, not just in an absolute sense but even for a company as large as Fox it's far more than pocket change or a rounding error (and they'll probably have to make other settlements)," writes Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com. "Definitely enough to have a deterrent effect."
  • Bill O'Reilly: The former Fox host expresses disdain in a blog post for the "usual far-left loons" who are disappointed the network won't be destroyed. But he also criticizes Fox for bringing this "disaster" upon itself. "This is what happens when money becomes more important than honest information," he writes. Sure, the network had a right to air the "opinion" of a rigged election, but "once the facts begin to overwhelm any point of view, a news agency has an obligation to say that."
  • It's disappointing: At the Intercept, Peter Maass writes that Fox "has escaped the legal, moral, and financial punishment of a judicial verdict." Anyone who expected Dominion to risk a big payday through trial is naive, he adds. "Dominion does not exist to serve the public interest or liberal magazines. It is a for-profit company owned by Staple Street Capital, a small private equity firm." It is founded and run by business people, "not pro-democracy agitators."
  • A win-win: That's how Quin Hillyer of the Washington Examiner sees the settlement. It "deters bad journalistic behavior by forcing a massive payout ($787.5 million) for the putrid ethics," Hillyer writes. "But it sets no hard, fast legal precedent that massively erodes the bulwark of the First Amendment."
(More Fox News stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.