Faith Monahan ’25
On April 18, Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems reached a settlement of $787 million dollars over the lawsuit filed by Dominion against Fox regarding their misinformation claiming that Dominion’s voting machines contributed to election fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Dominion is a producer of electronic voting machines used in elections in the United States and Canada, and its products became a target for claims over election fraud by Donald Trump and FOX News during the 2020 presidential election. The case is the largest payout in media history. The defamation suit had originally asked FOX for an amount of $1.6 billion in damages to Dominion.
Superior Court Judge Eric Davis overseeing the case in Delaware had stated in their judgement that the claims made by FOX were false and sent the case to trial back in March of this year. He wrote in his judgement, “The evidence developed in this civil proceeding demonstrates that [it] is CRYSTAL clear that none of the Statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true.” The lawsuit was originally filed by Dominion in March of 2021 and had reached settlement before the opening statements of the trial began.
Fox News had previously claimed that the Dominion electronic machines were unreliable alongside claims of election fraud to its audience of about 2.2 million Americans following the presidential election of 2020. There is no evidence supporting the claims that FOX’s hosts and guests had made on the election being stolen, and Dominion’s attorneys had argued that the media company was in possession of evidence against these claims. The media outlet’s attorneys argued that the statements of hosts and guests were within first amendment protections under the Supreme Court defamation case Sullivan v. New York Times. The landmark case protects news and media organizations from making errors if the reporting was done without intent of “actual malice.” Internal communications from high level Fox company employees revealed during discovery revealed that FOX News Media was aware that the claims made regarding the election being stolen were false while broadcasted.
Fox News made a statement on the lawsuit, “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. 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.”
Dominion CEO John Poulos said in a press conference on the settlement, “FOX and Dominion have reached a historic settlement. Fox has admitted to telling lies about dominion that have caused damage to my company, our employees, and the customers we serve… Truthful reporting in the media is essential to our democracy… I cannot thank the election officials we serve enough. Without them, there is no democracy. And the work they do tirelessly to that end, and they deserve much better.” Dominion has also filed defamation lawsuits against Newsmax and Rudy Giuliani.
A second company that produces election voting machines, Smartmatic, has also filed a defamation suit against FOX for $2.7 billion dollars under similar claims due to damages from denial of the 2020 presidential election results.