(Wilmington) The American channel Fox News has reached a last-minute agreement with the electronic voting machine company Dominion Voting Systems and will pay it $ 787.5 million in damages, for defamation on the sidelines of the presidential election of 2020.
“The parties have resolved their litigation,” Judge Eric Davis told the jurors at the very start of the trial in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware (east). He gave no details, including financial, while the company was still asking Tuesday morning for $ 1.6 billion in damages from the favorite chain of American conservatives.
Judge Eric Davis had postponed the hearing from Monday to Tuesday, a delay which suggested last-minute negotiations between, on the one hand, the chain and its parent company Fox Corporation and, on the other, the company Dominion Voting Systems.
Whatever the financial terms, a deal saves the conservatives’ favorite channel and the Murdoch family from facing “the libel trial of the century” as The New York Times dubbed it on Monday. And to Rupert Murdoch, 92, the prospect of possibly having to testify on the stand.
The procedure has already given rise to an embarrassing unpacking for Fox News, with the publication of email or text message exchanges showing that stars of the channel, and even Rupert Murdoch, hardly believed, in November 2020, in the scenario of a rigged election, while the accusations were all over the air.
The trial was eagerly awaited in the United States, where it was seen as a test for the limits of freedom of expression, guaranteed by the first amendment to the Constitution, as well as for the fight against disinformation.
In total, Dominion Voting Systems, which operated in 28 states during the 2020 election, claimed $1.6 billion in damages in civil court.
A huge sum but up to the height according to the company of the prejudice for having been presented on the most watched channel of American cable as “the bad guy” of a “story invented from scratch” after the presidential election of November 2020 lost by Donald Trump, she wrote in her complaint.
During the preparatory phase, Judge Eric Davis had found it “clear as water that no assertion about Dominion in the 2020 election [was] true”. Dominion points to twenty excerpts that it considers defamatory.
A must in the conservative camp, and regularly accused of echoing conspiracy theories, Fox News played big.
For the network, it was legitimate to give the floor to the Trump camp when it contested the vote and “essential for the search for the truth” to let all parties speak.
But Dominion Voting Systems relies on internal discussions to argue that Fox News was lying on purpose, so as not to lose its loyal viewers to Donald Trump.
“Gotta fire her,” also said one of the network’s stars, Tucker Carlson, upon seeing a tweet from a network reporter brushing aside accusations of fraud.
“It’s hurting the business significantly. The stock price is falling. This is no joke,” he added.
Fox News accuses Dominion Voting Systems of having made a truncated and biased selection of messages.