Dominion v. Fox News: Everything You Need to Know

The Dominion Voting Systems defamation lawsuit against Fox News finally came to a close on Tuesday April 18 as Fox News settled for $787.5 million, making headlines as one of the largest defamation settlements in US history.

Although the trial itself is more recent news with articles concerning both parties continuing to be released, the roots of this lawsuit can be traced back to the 2020 presidential election. In the days and weeks following the election results, then-President Donald Trump accused Dominion Technologies of supporting election fraud. Fox News reporter Jeanine Pirro repeated these allegations, alleging that both Dominion Technologies and Smartmatic — another voting technologies company — rigged the election against Trump.

In 2021, Dominion filed a lawsuit against Fox News seeking $1.6 billion in damages for the harm caused by Fox News’ promotion of false claims against the company. Despite several attempts by Fox News to dismiss the complaint, in 2022, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis allowed Dominion to sue, even extending the lawsuit to Fox corporation, the network’s parent company.

The trial, set to occur on April 18th, would determine whether or not Fox News will be held financially liable for publishing a false claim that Dominion’s voting machines rigged the 2020 election.

In a pretrial ruling in March, Judge Davis concluded that it is “CRYSTAL clear that none of the statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true,” leaving Dominion with the responsibility to prove that Fox reporters and hosts acted with malicious intent and knowingly spread these falsities.

Dominion was expected to question several Fox hosts and executives, including possible subpoenas that would have allowed for the testimony of Robert Murdoch, Lachlan Murdoch, or Paul Ryan, a Fox Corporation board member. According to a report by CNN, other possible witnesses included Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo, and Dana Perino, several of whom promoted the allegations against Dominion.

In the weeks leading up to the trial, Fox was subject to some controversy regarding evidence.

In late March, leaked redacted texts from Fox host Tucker Carlson revealed that many Fox employees believed the allegations false, further strengthening Dominion’s case. “[That] whole narrative that Sidney was pushing. I did not believe it for one second,” Sean Hannity wrote in one such statement.

Then, on April 12th, Judge Davis sanctioned Fox News for withholding evidence — namely, recordings made by Fox producer Abby Grossberg which were not given to Dominion upon their discovery. Judge Davis stated that he was considering further investigation into the subject.

The trial was set to begin on April 17 when Judge Davis announced a one-day delay the evening before without explanation. A later report by CNN indicated that the delay was likely to allow time for an attempted settlement between the parties.

Just before opening statements were set to begin on April 18, Judge Davis announced that Dominion and Fox had reached a settlement with Fox to pay Dominion $787.5 million. Fox has recently stated in a court filing that it settled in order to “buy peace.”

Currently, Dominion Voting Systems still has pending defamation lawsuits against two other news firms and several individuals, and Fox News faces another lawsuit from Smartmatic who is seeking $2.7 billion in damages.