Defamation settlement: Fox News off the hook?
Fox News has averted a defamation lawsuit by paying 787.5 million dollars to Dominion Voting Systems. The broadcaster had spread allegations that the 2020 US presidential election was rigged and that Dominion’s voting machine manufacturers were involved. Fox has admitted that its allegations were false and that it is satisfied with the deal. And so it should be, commentators fear.
A bargain deal
The result is a victory for Fox News, De Telegraaf puts in:
“If it had let the case go to trial, Fox would have put its relationship with its viewers at risk. What would have happened if stars like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity had to explain under oath why they laughed at Trump and his allies among themselves but pretended to take the allegations of fraud seriously for viewers? And what would have happened if the court had forced the network to apologise on air? That would have been even worse for business. Paying 787 million dollars is a bargain for Fox. Its viewers bring in far more.”
Pay up and keep on lying
The taz also sees the broadcaster as having got off lightly:
“With the settlement, Fox News is having to fork out a lot of money — but is otherwise not obliged to take any action. No counterstatement, no apology for the months-long allegations that the 2020 presidential election was rigged and that Dominion’s voting machines may have played a decisive role in this. ... Those who had hoped that the lawsuit against Fox News would have a healing effect and help the US to agree on at least a few facts are disappointed. Fox News has to defend a business empire whose core business is this kind of journalism.”
Europe should be inspired by US justice
La Libre Belgique is impressed by the US judiciary’s assertiveness:
“By prosecuting a former president or punishing the misdeeds of a major media group, the US justice system is demonstrating a power that few other justice systems in the world enjoy. ... Europe would be well advised to take inspiration from the New World and deny impunity to those who threaten democracy by spreading misinformation. This threat is huge at a time when it is increasingly difficult to distinguish the real from the fake, as the confusion over a video showing Emmanuel Macron singing in the streets of Paris — a genuine recording that many considered fake — reminds us.”