Media Matters' Angelo Carusone joins CBC Rundown to share his reaction to the Fox-Dominion lawsuit settlement

Carusone: “My warning to everybody is Fox News is about to burn brighter and hotter"

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Citation From the April 18, 2023, edition of CBC News' CBC Rundown with Andrew Nichols

ANDREW NICHOLS (HOST): So you think that this, even though $787 million is a significant amount of money, really that that is not going to influence how they operate, how the deliver the news going forward?

ANGELO CARUSONE (GUEST): Correct. That is right. And I think we have to be honest about this. I don't think that's enough to make a difference because it matters. Part of the perverse incentive here is for Fox to give their audience those lies and extremism so that then they can leverage that audience, that fervency, not just for political power, which we see on a day-to-day basis, but they then leverage that audience to pressure the cable companies into sort of artificially inflating what's called the demand score which is the ratio that cable carriers use to make these determinations. That's how Fox is able to get their rates so high.

So if you're making this sort of calculus, you're willing to pay a little bit of money up front because Fox will make that back three or four fold. If they're successful at renegotiating their cable renewals right now at what they are currently trying to get, they will make three or four times the amount of money just in extra profit because of the increases they're demanding than what they had to pay out to Dominion today. Like I said, I'm not dismissing it. It is significant. But the only way that that number actually sticks is if consumers and the industry either impressures it or, alternatively, if the shareholders come back and start filing litigation saying, "Wait. You took a billion dollars of our profit that could've been in the form of investments and derivatives and payouts to us and instead, because of your mismanagement of the company, was forced to settle. We want our cut now too." And that's an alternative.

But unless there's some other engine that forces that accountability, what we're actually seeing unfold right now is the very mechanics that have allowed Fox News to be as destructive and deceitful as they've gotten. It's worth the price of admission if they can continue to do everything that they're going to do. And that statement that they gave is my big red flag because it shows that they couldn't even acknowledge what the court already found. So that lie machine, it's still up and running. They probably just put some fresh oil in it.

NICHOLS: And Angelo, we don't have much time left but just very quickly: Do you expect Tucker Carlson and some of the other Fox on-air folks to be different in how they present their version of the news?

CARUSONE: Just a couple of weeks ago, we did an analysis to see how Fox was dealing with election coverage. Just this year, so in the first 50, 60 days of the year, we had already tracked 50 instances where they were saying the election was stolen or it was taken away or it wasn't credible. They just didn't use the words "Dominion". In fact, in Tucker's interview with Donald Trump, he said, "Some people say Joe Biden won the election." He didn't even acknowledge that Biden won the election. So they're still making the same story. The only thing is one of the characters was Dominion in this sort of tall tale that they told, this Big Lie -- That will no longer be a character in the lies that they are telling their audience.

But will this change their behavior? No. In fact, my warning to everybody is Fox News is about to burn brighter and hotter as a result of this.