Fox News Loses $787 Million and its Credibility
By Cliff Kincaid
There is no way to spin it: Fox News has suffered a major embarrassment, with its $787 million settlement in the Dominion voting case. Dominion lawyers now promise to pursue other cases, such as collecting $1.6 billion from Mike Lindell of My Pillow, a major advertiser on Fox and other conservative outlets.
This settlement was designed to spare Tucker Carlson, the channel’s biggest star, the spectacle of going on the witness stand. Publicly, Tucker was acting like Trump’s lawyers had to be on Fox, making their case against Dominion, so that the viewers would be happy and informed. Privately, he was sending email and text messages to colleagues and friends basically declaring Trump’s lawyers to be fools and idiots.
The failure to provide a rational case against vote fraud, compounded by the discovery process leading to the revelations about Fox’s internal deliberations, opened the door for Dominion, a leading provider of “hardware and software election tabulation solutions,” to sue for damages, and win.
In the wake of the biggest defamation case settlement in history, knee-jerk supporters of Fox such as Matt Vespa of Townhall have come to the channel’s defense, saying, “The preliminary depositions were brutal, so liberal America was anticipating a court battle, where their arch-nemesis -- Fox News -- would be humiliated. That didn’t happen.”
But it did happen.
What’s fascinating on one level is that Fox Corporation, a multi-billion dollar firm, was beaten badly by Staple Street Capital Group LLC, the small private equity buyout firm that owns Dominion Voting Systems.
Dominion had promised to expose lies and misinformation and Fox conceded, “We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false.”
Viewed objectively, the settlement itself says nothing about the nature or validity of the evidence as to whether some voting machines could have been manipulated to achieve a certain result. It only means that Fox was not prepared to admit on the witness stand that Tucker and other personalities were saying one thing in private and another in public. That meant that a jury could use this evidence to declare the channel guilty of deliberately spreading lies. And that is one element of defamation.
Fox Corporation can easily absorb the settlement costs and proceed with business as usual. But Fox also lost its credibility with conservatives serious about the battle to save America and ensure honest and fair elections.
Even without a trial featuring the grilling of Tucker Carlson, the evidence already filed in the case showed that Tucker was concerned about airing doubts about the election fraud claims because it would drive away Trump supporters convinced the election was stolen. He believed that Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich’s skeptical coverage of the vote fraud allegations was “hurting” the company with its conservative viewer base and driving down the stock price.
The full quote shows Carlson telling Sean Hannity, “Please get her fired. Seriously…What the f---? I’m actually shocked…It needs to stop immediately, like tonight. It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.”
At one point, Carlson texted with an associate that Trump was “a demonic force, a destroyer. But he’s not going to destroy us.”
A political chameleon with a rich kid’s background, who started out with MSNBC, it appears that Tucker’s coverage was itself rigged to please viewers and retain and grow his audience, out of concern news consumers would defect to alternatives like Newsmax. But Newsmax and other outlets also face lawsuits from Dominion.
Hence, after denouncing Trump in private, Tucker recently turned around and interviewed him, giving the former president a one-hour opportunity to state his case for re-election.
While Tucker lands important interviews, such as the one with Elon Musk, he has been exposed as a two-faced character, with his finger blowing in the wind, depending on what he thinks attracts viewers. His concern with the stock price of Fox has made him millions of dollars, based on exploiting issues he thinks the viewers want covered.
I was one of those fooled by Tucker. At one time, I thought he was the new voice of the forgotten American, noting that he was urging Republicans to the return to the themes that got Trump elected.
His 2018 book, Ship of Fools, was about how the failures of the political establishment led to the election of Trump.
But the discovery process in the Dominion-Fox lawsuit exposed how the channel regards its own viewers as fools.
My column, “Trump’s Enemies May Surprise You,” alluded to the fact that although he was once associated with so-called neo-con Bill Kristol, Carlson now poses as a populist opposed to the neo-cons, bad-mouthing Ukraine’s battle against the Russian invaders. It’s difficult to figure out what he actually believes.
Carlson regularly highlights a number of other flip-floppers, including:
I noted as well that while we hear a lot these days from Fox commentators about alleged Soros-backed prosecutors, it was Fox which banned Chris Farrell of Judicial Watch for criticizing Soros on the Lou Dobbs show, and that Glenn Beck was actually fired from Fox News for exposing Soros.
In another case of two-faced coverage, Fox hypes the threat from the transgender movement while hiring transgender former athlete Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner and featuring him/her on the channel’s coverage of biological males in women’s sports.
Meanwhile on the ground, often without the necessary funding, those serious about the issue of vote fraud are working to ensure free, fair, and transparent elections.
In Maryland, for example, a state-wide Voter Integrity group has focused on such matters as mail-in ballots and ballot harvesting efforts, specialized in by Democrats to overcome same-day turnout and overtake Republican leads in critical state and county races.
Ballot harvesting allows political operatives to collect absentee ballots and drop them off at a polling place or election office.
Former President Trump once criticized ballot harvesting but now says Republicans should embrace the practice.
Perhaps this is where his lawyers should have concentrated their attention.
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