How Fox News covered its own huge Dominion defamation settlement

A Fox News Channel logo is displayed on an outdoor wall at the company's New York City headquarters.
Fox News reached a nine-figure defamation settlement Tuesday with Dominion Voting Systems.
(Yuki Iwamura / Associated Press)

Fox News agreed Tuesday to pay $787.5 million to end a defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems, but Fox News viewers wouldn’t necessarily have known about the settlement, at least at first.

Whereas major news outlets including The Times began reporting the settlement shortly after 1 p.m., Fox News didn’t post its story about the settlement until 2:37 p.m. Pacific.

For the record:

11:59 a.m. April 19, 2023An earlier version of this story said Howard Kurtz talked about the Fox-Dominion settlement Tuesday on “MediaBuzz.” That show, hosted by Kurtz, runs Sundays; he appeared Tuesday as a guest on Fox’s “Your World” and “Special Report.”

The article — nine sentences long — spun the settlement as best it could, noting in the second paragraph that “Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis, who was overseeing the defamation lawsuit, praised both parties for their handling of the case.”


The article went on to quote Davis as saying, “I have been on the bench since 2010. … I think this is the best lawyering I’ve had, ever.”

Fox Corp. has settled the defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems, but the company’s troubles are far from over.

April 18, 2023

Media correspondent Howard Kurtz addressed the legal clash in an appearance on “Special Report,” hosted by Bret Baier, and on Neil Cavuto’s show, “Your World.”

“Well, it was a dramatic ending to what everyone thought would be one of the most covered trials of the century. ... There was a two-hour, behind-closed-doors meeting between Judge Eric Davis and lawyers from both sides. There was a lot of speculation about what was going on,” Kurtz said.

“The jury had already been selected and seated and we thought we were going to open up arguments, but as it turned out the two parties were discussing a settlement. That settlement has now been reached, the amount of the settlement has not been disclosed,” he said, although the $787.5-million figure was widely reported in other outlets’ coverage.

Kurtz then read a statement from Fox, which included:

“We acknowledge the court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. This settlement reflects Fox’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.’”

The defamation case against Fox News is a start at accountability for the harms the network has done to its viewers and American democracy.

April 17, 2023

Kurtz said Dominion had taken risks with its suit. “Dominion would have had to prove actual malice. That’s a high bar in any such case, but at the same time, Dominion was claiming damages not that they would have gotten, such astronomical damages as $1.6 billion. For Dominion if it lost the case, it ends up with zero, and because of the 1st Amendment concerns and the actual malice there that I just mentioned, that would’ve been a roll of the dice for the company that argued that they had been defamed by Fox.”


Kurtz then framed the settlement as a loss for those hoping to see Fox endure the embarrassing disclosures that might have come from a long, revealing trial.

“Although much of the media was looking forward to six weeks of, frankly, a lot of people in the mainstream media, anti-Fox, rooting for Fox to lose, they’re now going to be deprived of that opportunity,” he said, “and the rest of us get to go home.”