I’m as disappointed as anyone about the defamation case against Fox News not going to trial. I was really looking forward to seeing Fox News hosts, executives, and members of the Murdoch family, the sweat distorting their make-up as they testify live, under oath, about why they lied over and over again to their viewers.
And, for that matter, all of America.
But it’s pretty hard to turn down $787,500,000 — more than ¾ of a billion dollars — when it’s offered to you. As one of the members of Dominion’s legal team pointed out, with a settlement they wouldn’t have to go through years of appeals. And it’s by far the biggest settlement ever against a media organization.
Still, there would have been something so cathartic out seeing the Fox cast testify under oath.
Would it have made a difference with Fox viewers?
A few might have had the spell broken by hearing their heroes publicly declare that they were lying. But most would probably have hung on, doing extraordinary cognitive gymnastics to keep believing.
As it is, Dominion got us half-way. They at least got Fox News hosts, executive and family members under oath in various depositions. We don’t have video of those depositions — which would have been more impressive — but half a loaf is better than no loaf at all.
And, we still have the Smartmatic defamation suit against Fox News. While Dominion was asking for $1.6 billion, Smartmatic is asking for $2.7 billion. They won’t get that, but since Dominion got $785 million, I would expect that Smartmatic wouldn’t settle for anything less.
That would be $1.57 billion, if both cases settle for the same amount.
So, there is still hope that there might be a public trial of Fox News.
A $1.57 billion amount would not put Fox News out of business — their last earnings report indicated they had revenues of $4.61 billion in the most recent quarter — but it would take a bite out of their operations.
So now the two largest defamation awards in the history of the United States are the $1.5 billion against Alex Jones, and the $785 million against Fox News. The next biggest awards (at least if the Internet can be believed) are a $222 million award against Dow Jones and a $33 million award against Oberlin College.
Nice going, conservative blowhards. You really are #1.