Sunny and breezy this late afternoon Tuesday here in California’s Central Valley — another day in the life.
And the biggest news item on the cycle today is a bummer: ‘Fox News agreed to settle a defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems on Tuesday for $787.5 million, according to an attorney for the voting technology company — a stunning conclusion to one of the most highly-anticipated media trials in decades.‘
Although the settlement was the highest ever in a defamation case, I’d really, really wanted to see Rupert Murdoch and all his lying, on-air assholes — Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro, (plus former asshole Lou Dobbs), among others — called to the stand and testify how they lied about the 2020 election, knowing they were lying while they were lying. Even with no cameras in the courtroom, there was reason to look forward to Fox News having to say ‘I’m sorry,’ to the whole country.
However, it’s not to be.
And once again money speaks, truth gets kicked in the nuts — again:
A key footnote to Rupert Murdoch's media legacy. https://t.co/xo8vusH501
— Brian Lowry (@blowryontv) April 18, 2023
Wajahat Ali at The Daily Beast just minutes ago notes the bummer America:
For those worried about the future of capitalism, the Dominion-Fox lawsuit is a good reminder that bad-faith right-wing actors with money can still trump accountability. Although temporarily weakened, Fox remains healthy enough to continue being a platform for white nationalist talking points—and is free to double down on its attack on our democracy, marginalized communities, the environment, and the truth.
Thanks in part to Fox, a majority of Republican voters now believe the “big lie” that President Trump won the 2020 election, which he actually lost by 7 million votes. These lies, amplified by Trump and Fox, radicalized thousands of individuals to take part in a failed, violent insurrection against our free and fair election. This act of terror ultimately led to the death of several people, including a Capitol Hill police officer.
In light of such destructive behavior, the hope for America’s beleaguered majority was that Dominion’s lawsuit would not only expose Fox’s role and hypocrisy in fomenting chaos for sake of profit, but finally punish it as well. Unlike so many corporate institutions that continue bending the knee to bad-faith right-wing actors, and engaging in “both sides” coverage for the sake of profit and access, Dominion was rare in that it fought back. They took a play from Trump’s litigious playbook and decided to fight Fox in court. The defamation trial could have extracted a giant piece of financial flesh from Fox, but the real coup de grace would have been a lengthy trial that lays bare the depth of Fox’s hypocrisy, venality, and insincerity—which would have weakened their credibility and stature ahead of the 2024 election.
The discovery process already revealed stunning quotes that have tainted the network. Rupert Murdoch, one of the worst villains of the 21st century, admitted that even though he knew some Fox hosts were spreading lies about the election, he chose not to intervene. Under oath, he said that Fox was “trying to straddle the line between conspiracy theories on one hand, yet calling out the fact that they are actually false on the other.” Well, they failed on both accounts, thanks in part to Fox’s star hosts.
If Dominion had continued its lawsuit, this brazen hypocrisy—and, I’ll admit it, beautiful entertainment—would be played out publicly. We’d have Fox executives and hosts on the stand confronted with their texts, emails, and messages. There would be more discovery and subsequent revelations. In order to protect themselves, some Fox employees would have to call out the nuts they have on their networks, including hosts and guests. They’d twist, squirm, and contort when forced to explain why they chose to promote lies. Tucker would be asked if he really believes that Trump is a “demonic force,” a day after possibly praising him on his show. Also, Dominion might have actually won the case and walked out with a bigger bag, possibly more than a billion dollars.
All of this exposure would significantly weaken, humiliate, and compromise Fox ahead of the 2024 elections. But, all of that is for naught with this settlement.
Sure, some damage is done. The texts are out and can’t be forgotten. $787 million is no small chunk of change. It’s more than a flesh wound, but it’s not a grave injury.
Is there real accountability? No. Most importantly, is this a deterrent to stop future bad behavior? I don’t think so. They’ll just be more clever and subtle with their dog whistles and throw in some disclaimers here and there with a wink and nudge. And if that doesn’t work, well, they can just do what they’ve always done when confronted with accountability for their horrific actions: they can just buy their troubles away.
And now how can we tell the difference between reality and Fox News? What’s a real Fox News news story, or some bullshit made-up?
We want to know:
Despite defamation, or not, or a pure-ass lie, or not, here were once again…
(Illustration out front: Edvard Munch‘s ‘The Scream,’ lithograph version, found here.)