In a new piece from The Guardian, Media Matters President Angelo Carusone explained how the lawsuit against Fox Corporation, One America News, and Newsmax, brought by Dominion Voting Systems in response to the conspiracy theories about the company’s role in the 2020 election, could force major changes among right-wing cable networks. Dominion, a voting equipment company, is pursuing a $1.6 billion defamation case after the company became the center of unfounded and fantastical conspiracy theories fueling Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election.
“I think OAN is going to be wiped out from the litigation costs. Forget about any judgment,” said Angelo Carusone, president and chief executive of Media Matters for America, which monitors rightwing media.
Carusone pointed out that OAN is already struggling to survive, after it was dropped by the DirecTV cable company – which was reportedly responsible for 90% of OAN’s revenue – in April.
“We’ve started seeing, already, them scaling back programming, they’ve been laying off staff, they’ve been cutting back the number of programs. So it’s pretty clear that they don’t have sufficient resources to weather a protracted litigation.”
Newsmax, which is still carried by DirecTV, is “relatively cash flush” in comparison to OAN, Carusone said – enough to survive a trial, if not to pay the billions of dollars Dominion and Smartmatic are seeking.
(Voting machine company Smartmatic has also filed suit against right-wing media entities.)
Carusone highlighted the uniquely vulnerable position that Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch and Fox News are in regarding their role pushing lies about Dominion and the 2020 election.
As for Fox, the most significant thing could be if the Murdochs are subjected to discovery – where they and Fox could be forced to hand over documents potentially including communications data – as part of the legal process, Carusone said.
Text messages obtained by the January 6 commission have already revealed that there was communication between Fox News hosts and White House officials regarding the insurrection – and it seems unlikely that is the only thing that was discussed.
“I think once you start to pull the discovery material, what you’re going to find is there was a lot of communication between the Trump people both internally and externally about pushing very specific lies and narratives,” Carusone said.
While Fox is more financially comfortable than OAN and NewsMax, it is not invulnerable. Fox News is due to renegotiate its contracts with cable providers at the end of this year, and Carusone said cable companies could use the lawsuit to drive down prices.