Fried: Here Is the Rot in the Fox-Dominion Settlement
When Jeff Zucker ran CNN, he famously had company-wide conferences every weekday morning at 9 a.m., and he would instruct his TV personalities regarding the appropriate messaging for the day.
Some employees lamented the straitjacket. For example, CNN media coordinator Nick Neville candidly expressed hope that CNN “could let the news people decide the news and have the executives stay out of it.”
Fox News does not use the CNN approach. For example, the views of Tucker Carlson on the Ukraine war are diametrically opposite the views of Sean Hannity, and it is also clear that people at Fox had differing views about the 2020 election.
I read that Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo implied that lawyer Sidney Powell was credible. On the other hand, it is clear that Carlson and Laura Ingraham had serious reservations regarding Powell’s information.
So what? I don’t see the crime. It seems normal and even healthy for different people in a news organization to hold different views. It doesn’t mean that anyone, on either side of the argument, is a liar. It also doesn’t make the entire network a liar. I guess that concept is a tough one for CNN to grasp.
Claims of election fraud are vastly larger than just Dominion.
This morning I saw a few minutes of MSNBC (my limit) and heard Joe Scarborough wonder if Carlson will now have to stop questioning issues related to the Jan. 6 “insurrection.” That is wishful and rather obtuse thinking.
The Dominion-Fox case was very narrowly focused on the claims of Powell and one particular voting machine vendor. The issues of election fraud and the Jan. 6 riots are immensely larger.
Unfortunately, people like Scarborough may try to use the Fox settlement as an argument for the increased censorship of anyone who questions the validity of any aspect of the 2020 election or its aftermath. That could affect people like me because, when I appear on a radio show or podcast, I itemize numerous irrefutable facts that call into question the validity of the 2020 election. I plan to continue.
Venue and jury selection, and the touchy issue of race
People wonder why Fox waited so long to settle. I suspect that the last-minute settlement may have been triggered by the last-minute selection of the jury. This requires a frank conversation.
Jurors were selected just before the settlement was reached. Some people on the left, like a journalist for Slate, seemed gleeful. Justin Peters put out a piece titled, “Meet the jury that will decide Fox News’ fate,” in which he pointed out that the jury appeared to be mostly minorities. Why did he feel it was important to describe the racial makeup of the jury?
Even the judge seemed to be thinking along those lines. CNN reported that after the “racially diverse jury” was selected, and after a settlement was reached, the judge told them, “Your presence here, short compared to what you thought, and uneventful in a certain sense, was extremely important. Without you, the parties would not have been able to resolve their situation.”
Hmm! The judge thought that the very brief presence of the jury spurred a settlement. I wonder what he meant!
There is another factor that should be considered as we assess the significance of this settlement. In Wilmington, Delaware, only 30 percent of the public supported Donald Trump in the 2020 election. If only 30 percent had supported Joe Biden, do you think Dominion would have gotten a settlement of nearly $800 million? We all know the answer.
Legal venues are a huge problem for conservatives in America because almost all the big trials take place in big, very blue cities, where jurors can be expected to have a bias against Republicans. If you doubt this, ask Trump as he fights a ridiculous case brought by a partisan Manhattan district attorney.
Conservatives need to get their business out of left-wing jurisdictions. And eventually, we need to move some of our government agencies to America’s heartland.
The absurd amount in damages claimed
Dominion claimed that it lost $1.6 billion in value. By all accounts, $1.6 billion is vastly more than the company was ever worth.
In 2018, Staple Street Capital purchased a 76 percent share of Dominion for $38.8 million. That implies a total value, in 2018, of $51 million. Adding a 3 percent annual inflation factor brings the value to about $60 million. So why did Fox settle for so much?
Fox probably knew it could prove to a jury — even one comprising mostly Democrats — that Dominion was worth just a small fraction of $1.6 billion. However, the wild card in American civil suits is the punitive award.
In the hands of a hateful jury, the system of punitive awards puts a gun to the head of defendants. Vindictive juries can, and often do, assess ludicrous penalties against the organizations or people they despise. Legislation is needed to limit the size of punitive damages.
Finally, I truly worry about the impact on future news coverage.
Fox argues that claims by Trump and his attorneys were extremely newsworthy, and it was doing the right thing by giving Trump’s supporters a chance to make their claims. That is correct, without a doubt.
But what will the news coverage be like for the 2024 election? Already, liberals have dramatically reduced conservative news coverage by driving One America News and Newsmax from cable news platforms. Fox has been muted, and now it may be even more reluctant to do anything that could lead to a lawsuit.
It may seem discouraging, but this is not the time to retreat. Rather, this is the time to speak louder than ever and take stock of the tremendous power conservatives can wield. A great example is the Budweiser debacle, in which conservatives brought a giant company to its knees in a matter of weeks.
For years, left-wingers have attacked networks such as OAN, Newsmax and Fox. They have even attacked the utilities and other service providers of those networks. Meanwhile, conservatives have extended grace and tolerance to CNN and MSNBC.
I wonder how long that can continue.
The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.