Despite Settlement, Nightmare May Not Be Over for Fox

'Time' suggests Fox Corporation's board could face 'serious claims of negligence'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2023 12:15 PM CDT
Murdoch Avoided the Stand, but Worse Could Be Coming
Rupert Murdoch introduces Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the Herman Kahn Award Gala on Oct. 30, 2019, in New York.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Rupert Murdoch was saved from taking the stand when Fox News agreed to "the largest publicly disclosed payout to settle a media libel case in the US" on Tuesday, per the Guardian. Dominion Voting Systems, which accused Fox of knowingly spouting false claims that its systems were used to tamper in the 2020 election, planned to call the Fox Corporation chairman and News Corp executive chairman to the stand as its second witness in the defamation trial, which the last-minute $787.5 million settlement prevented, per the Guardian and Washington Post. Murdoch, whose deposition proved problematic, was "inclined to settle the matter financially," according to the Post. More:

  • Murdoch's deposition "promised a bonanza for Dominion's lawyers" as the 92-year-old had said he wasn't involved in decisions about Fox's coverage, yet internal communications uncovered by Dominion "showed his executives relaying his coverage wishes," per the Post.
  • Murdoch's son Lachlan, who serves as Fox's chief executive, was also expected to appear as a witness, as were Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Maria Bartiromo, Sean Hannity, and Jeanine Pirro. That was likely to prove embarrassing for Fox, as internal communications indicated each were aware the claims broadcast were false, per the Guardian.

  • The Post digs into the last-minute negotiations, which involved mediator Jerry Roscoe spending his European vacation conducting "as many as 50 calls with both sides." "We were on the phone nonstop" and "emotions ran high," he tells the outlet.
  • A settlement benefited Dominion, too, according to the Post. It notes Fox planned to counter Dominion's argument that the false claims hurt its business with figures showing the company had its second-highest revenue year in 2022.
  • Still, "some questioned why Dominion would settle the case without a public apology when it had the opportunity to skewer Murdoch and other Fox stars at trial," per the Guardian. Commenting on that Tuesday, Dominion lawyer Justin Nelson told MSNBC's Joy Reid that "what we have done is hold Fox accountable."

  • "Such a whopping settlement may not have been awarded by a jury in court and very well could have been tossed on appeal," per Time. And Fox wouldn't have been required to apologize even if it lost at trial. While it didn't apologize after the settlement was announced, it did acknowledge that the court found "certain claims about Dominion to be false."
  • According to Time, the nightmare for Fox is just beginning as "the condemning depositions of Fox anchors and executives ... opens Fox's board to serious claims of negligence and breaches of fiduciary duty—violations of a board's duty of care and duty of loyalty under Delaware corporate law." Fox is also facing another defamation lawsuit from Smartmatic.
(More Fox News stories.)

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