Fox buries its massive Dominion payout

Screengrab of Fox News.

If you’ve heard about Fox News’ record-breaking settlement with Dominion Voting Systems over the network’s election fraud lies, you probably don’t depend on the right-wing propaganda outlet for your information.

Fox News devoted only 6 minutes and 53 seconds of coverage to its last-minute $787.5 million settlement with Dominion as of posting time. Dominion had sued Fox for defamation, citing its lies about that company’s role in purportedly rigging the 2020 presidential election against Donald Trump.

Fox’s coverage amounted to roughly one second of airtime for every $1.9 million of the settlement.

The Fox payout to Dominion “is the largest publicly known defamation settlement in US history involving a media company” and is “nearly 10 times the company’s valuation from 2018, and roughly eight times its annual revenue in 2021, according to court filings,” CNN reported.

The agreement, announced on Tuesday afternoon in a courtroom filled with reporters following an hours-long delay before opening statements were to begin, received extensive coverage from major news outlets worldwide.

But on Fox, coverage was limited to a pair of reports from the network’s Howard Kurtz on “news side” programs Your World and Special Report, and a pair of headline reads on Your World and the overnight show Fox News @ Night. Kurtz, who was initially barred by Fox from reporting on the case, appeared in the Delaware courtroom on Tuesday. 

Kurtz, whose reporting was often harshly critical of Fox’s operation before he took a job at the network a decade ago, presented a relatively upbeat portrayal of the massive settlement Fox agreed to pay out. 

On Your World, for instance, Kurtz did not mention the $787.5 million figure on-air (he later told Special Report that a settlement total had been stated by Dominion’s lawyers but that he had been unable to “independently confirm” it). He also read in full Fox’s hilariously nonsensical statement that “this settlement reflects Fox's continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards” and claimed that “much of the media was looking forward to six weeks of, frankly, a lot of people in the mainstream media, anti-Fox, rooting for Fox to lose, they're now going to be deprived of that opportunity.”

Kurtz did call the claims at issue – “that Dominion voting machines … were somehow stealing votes from Donald Trump and flipping them to Joe Biden” – both “obviously false” and “conspiracy theories.” But he did not mention the voluminous evidence revealed through the lawsuit that Fox’s hosts, executives, and producers were aware those claims were false at the time the network aired them.

Video file

Citation From the April 18, 2023, edition of Fox News' Your World.

Notably, the settlement was not mentioned on Tuesday’s editions of The Five, Tucker Carlson Tonight, or Hannity, or on Wednesday’s Fox & Friends or Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria. Each of those programs (or one of its hosts, in the case of panel show The Five’s Jeanine Pirro and Mornings with Maria’s Maria Bartiromo) had aired statements about Dominion that the company’s lawyers identified as false.

Judge Eric M. Davis, who oversaw the case, wrote last month that it is “CRYSTAL clear that none of the Statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true” (emphasis in original).

Nor was the settlement discussed on Fox News evening shows Jesse Watters Primetime and The Ingraham Angle.

The network also hid the story on its website and concealed relevant facts from its readers in the article about the settlement it published.