Fox Information Dominion Settlement: The Cable Large, Unapologetic and Unwavering, Steams Forward After Staggering Payout

Fox Information was totally ready to go to trial even because it labored to settle Dominion Voting Methods’ staggering case in opposition to the community. Fox had booked a type of newfangled TV-studio-in-a-truck corporations simply in case, say, Sean Hannity needed to host a present from court docket in Wilmington, Delaware. He would be capable of climb into the again, placed on a mic, sit in entrance of a giant display, and be just about transported out of authorized hell. The exhibits would go on, that a lot was assured.

The truck was by no means actually wanted. As an alternative, on Tuesday afternoon, earlier than attorneys for Fox Information and Dominion even delivered opening statements, the two events agreed to a gargantuan—$787.5 million—settlement that stopped the trial in its tracks. Fox launched a press release acknowledging the court docket “discovering sure claims about Dominion to be false” and claimed to face for journalistic excellence. Rupert Murdoch, Tucker Carlson, and Hannity, amongst others, shall be spared the embarrassment of getting to testify.

There have been loads of uncomfortable moments for Fox these previous few months, as non-public messages and emails have revealed key Fox actors disparaging Donald Trump and his allies, like lawyer Sidney Powell, whom they gave a platform on air. However all of the whereas, Fox’s message has been the identical. I picked up on it after I referred to as the Fox Information PR division for remark final week and requested them what they wished extra media retailers would point out concerning the lawsuit. Different reporters sensed it too after they skimmed the emails that Fox PR blasted out to counter Dominion. The community wished to make one factor abundantly clear: It was nonetheless as widespread as ever. Nothing about this lawsuit has impacted its scores.

“Fox Information Channel’s viewership has not been impacted by the Dominion case, in accordance with information from Nielsen Media Analysis,” one of many PR emails mentioned final week. That is correct: I’ve been eyeballing Fox’s day by day scores ever since Dominion began to launch embarrassing texts and emails from the community’s largest stars, and the scores haven’t wobbled one bit.

This shouldn’t be stunning, since Fox Information features as a 24/7 commercial for Fox, with each media-bashing phase doubling as a warning to not belief different media retailers. However it’s putting that Fox wished its scores victories to be entrance and middle since, in any case, the scores underscore that hundreds of thousands of individuals had been misinformed by Fox’s villainizing of Dominion after the 2020 election.

For Fox, this message was essential to the guardian firm’s long-term enterprise pursuits. Fox trumpeted its scores and purchased advertisements touting its “trusted” model as a result of, lengthy after Dominion receives its payout, Fox shall be raking in far bigger sums of cash from its advertisers and distributors. Fox Information executives insist that sponsors haven’t been spooked by the Large Lie scandal, nor have the cable and satellite tv for pc suppliers that carry the community. Within the negotiations which might be going down this spring between Fox and the likes of Comcast, Fox desires to interrupt previous the three-buck mark—that means three {dollars} per cable family monthly, in accordance with sources acquainted with the matter. Regardless that the American cable universe is shrinking, Murdoch and his son Lachlan Murdoch are nonetheless extracting billions of {dollars}. 

So within the wake of the settlement, if Murdoch feels in any respect dismayed by his firm’s barely lighter checking account, he can discover consolation within the scores, simply as he has for many years. Image the elder Murdoch because the proprietor of an ethically compromised but spectacularly profitable soccer crew—a crew that responds to rivals’ jeers by standing defiantly and pointing on the scoreboard. Fox wields its successful standing—it’s normally the primary community throughout all of cable—as a taunt, as a protection, as an excuse. Typically it makes use of it to shush critics who say its programming poisons the general public discourse. Hundreds of thousands of viewers can’t be mistaken, can they?

The scores are additionally a reminder of the supply-and-demand dynamic that’s obvious throughout right-wing media. Dominion sued the suppliers of disinformation—Fox, Newsmax, Rudy Giuliani, and so forth. However you’ll be able to’t litigate away the demand for antidemocratic conspiracy theories.

That’s largely why the settlement information spurred emotions of disappointment and disillusionment in some quarters on Tuesday. (Because the settlement information sunk in, Stephen Colbert channeled liberals’ feelings on his CBS broadcast: “Rattling it, I need my trial! I need it! You had been supposed to offer me six weeks of scrumptious content material!”) Dominion received, sure, however Fox received too. The one dropping celebration is the general public. All the court docket reveals that Fox fought to maintain secret, and thus had been redacted earlier than trial, will now keep sealed. Sure, lots of the community’s secrets and techniques spilled out into view, however an untold quantity will stay non-public. “There’s numerous aid at Fox,” former Fox politics editor Chris Stirewalt mentioned on NewsNation Tuesday evening. The Fox means is to “by no means apologize,” as execs used to boast again when Roger Ailes dominated the place. They didn’t need to air apologies to Dominion. “This was all the time, all the time concerning the cash from day one,” a Murdoch affiliate sniffed.

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