Fox News settles Dominion defamation case with dramatic late $787m deal

Voting machine maker had sued Murdoch’s company over US election fraud allegations

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corporation has agreed to settle a defamation case brought by voting machine maker Dominion over US election fraud allegations broadcast by his news network in the wake of Donald Trump’s election loss in 2020. The settlement figure was reported to be $787 million.

The judge in Delaware overseeing the case on Tuesday announced the “parties have resolved their case” following a last-minute deal reached on the cusp of a six-week trial. Opening arguments were set to begin in the afternoon.

Fox News, the conservative news organisation, and its owner Fox Corp had been sued for $1.6 billion by voting machine maker Dominion in 2021, over on-air statements accusing the manufacturer of rigging its devices to award votes to president Joe Biden, of paying bribes to election officials, and of working for the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez.

The judge had ruled in March that the 20 statements in question were false and that the US constitution’s first amendment offered no free-speech protection to those deliberately broadcasting lies.


He had left it up to the jury – picked from the heavily Democratic New Castle county in which the court is situated – to decide whether Fox anchors had acted with “actual malice” in repeating the claims on air, and what damages Dominion suffered.

Despite attempts by Fox’s lawyers to prevent his appearance, Mr Murdoch (92), was set to be called to testify in person, as were several Fox stars, including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.

The media tycoon had already testified behind closed doors that some Fox anchors had gone too far and “endorsed” claims of election fraud, as opposed to merely repeating allegations made by others.

Evidence gathered in the months preceding the trial also provided an unflattering glimpse into Fox’s newsgathering process, revealing that several central figures did not believe the election fraud allegations made on air but were afraid to challenge them for fear of losing viewers to more radical outlets, such as Newsmax and OAN.

Several legal experts said Fox would have faced an “uphill battle” at trial, as its defence relied on proving that the likes of Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro – the presenters whose shows most prominently featured many of the statements in question – did not know for certain that the allegations were untrue at the time.

However, many also questioned the calculations behind Dominion’s demand for $1.6 billion in damages, pointing to the fact that the company did not seem to have lost much business as a result of the allegedly defamatory claims.

While the settlement brings the lawsuit filed in Delaware superior court to a close, it leaves Fox open to separate claims from shareholders accusing it of being in breach of fiduciary duties, one of which has already been submitted to the court of chancery.

Dominion is also pursuing claims against a number of individuals including former Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who made multiple allegations against the company in November 2020. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2023