Wednesday, April 19, 2023

“We acknowledge the Court’s rulings..."

I don't watch cable (or network) news much, but I do watch Bret Baier's Special Report (5:00 pm CST) on Fox News most days. I intentionally avoid Fox's evening opinion programming (Jesse Watters, Tucker Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham). (I avoid MSNBC, too.) That kind of programming seems to have been what made necessary Fox's $787 million dollar settlement with Dominion yesterday. National Review's Jim Geraghty drew some conclusions:
One: There can be catastrophic financial consequences for adopting and repeating the lies of the former president.

If you choose to believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen, you must also believe that there is a compelling pile of verifiable evidence that, for some inexplicable reason, was never presented by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in its myriad post-election lawsuits in November and December 2020. Furthermore, you must believe that when facing a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion, Fox News never presented any of this evidence as a defense in this defamation lawsuit. Truth, or substantial truth, is an absolute defense in a defamation case.

If you choose to believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen, you must believe Fox News agreed to pay $787.5 million to Dominion in a settlement, rather than present any of that evidence. You must believe that Fox News had a quick and easy way to win this lawsuit and simply refused to use it — even though the news distributor had more than 700 million good reasons to point to this evidence, if it existed.

But Fox News did not present that evidence; in fact, Fox Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch said under oath that he believes the 2020 presidential election was free, fair, and not stolen. Fox News did not present any evidence contending that the 2020 presidential election was not stolen, because the 2020 presidential election was not stolen, and there is no compelling evidence that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Period, full stop, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Some of you might be thinking, “That’s not much of a hard lesson.” No, the hard lesson is that a CNN poll last month asked 1,045 Republicans or Republican-leaning independents, “Thinking about the results of the 2020 presidential election, do you think that Joe Biden legitimately won enough votes to win the presidency, or not?” The survey found just 37 percent of these Republicans or Republican-leaning independents believe that Biden legitimately won; 63 percent believe “Biden did not legitimately win enough votes to win the presidency.” ....

This is going to make covering former president Trump potentially litigious matter going forward, as Trump is unlikely to ever back down from his conspiracy theories and could repeat his false and defamatory claims about any of the voting-machine companies at any time. Any television network covering Trump will feel a need to push back against those claims, early and often, and on-air. .... (more)
Geraghty notes:
...[I]t wasn’t Bret Baier, Dana Perino, or Howard Kurtz who got Fox News in trouble. In fact, the network’s news division and reporters are barely mentioned at all in the Dominion lawsuit. The news division, by and large, exercised appropriate skepticism about the lack of evidence for the outrageous claims of Giuliani and Powell. No, it was the prime-time opinion hosts — some would call them the “entertainment” hosts — who turned their studios into platforms for Trump-campaign surrogates to offer every nutty conspiracy theory they could think of, with minimal pushback or skepticism. ....

A loose-cannon host who is unpredictable and capable of saying anything — and Fox News is not the only network with on-air talent who fits this description — can end up costing his network hundreds of millions of dollars. .... The cost-benefit analysis of cable-news personalities is about to change — and the market for “you never know what he’s going to say next” is about to crash. ....
Jim Geraghty, "Three Hard Lessons from the Dominion Defamation Lawsuit against Fox," NRO, April 19, 2023.

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