I read a lot of comments online in the wake of the Dominion Voting Systems’ out-of-court settlement with Fox News for $787.5 million. Much of the talk these days is about how Fox News has “gotten away with it.” When I read that I’m reminded of an exchange from the movie “Life of Brian,” where Brian is thrown into prison and he says to his cellmate:
“What will they do to me?”
“Oh, you’ll probably get away with crucifixion,” the cellmate replies.
“Yeah, first offence.”
“GET AWAY with crucifixion?”
So yeah, it looks like Fox News is going to “get away” with crucifixion. In fact the Dominion lawsuit was only the overture to the first act, only the beginning. Wait for what’s coming next. Let me count the ways.
Next up is the $2.7 billion Smartmatic lawsuit. Smartmatic has been emboldened by the successful Dominion suit. Not only that, but there is now a legal precedent set from the first lawsuit in the form of a summary judgement. In that summary judgement Fox was told that they could not fall back on the defence that they were “only reporting the news,” or “only reporting what Trump said,” because it has already been established that Fox News knew they were lying. That precedent will be easy to reestablish in the Smartmatic trial.
The word is that Smartmatic is already loading its guns for a settlement even higher than Dominion’s if they want to avoid going to trial. For one thing, the damage is greater. Dominion is a company that operates in the United States and Canada. Smartmatic is a multinational corporation based in London and operates throughout the world. Their worldwide reputation, established by their slogan that they are “The World Leader in Secure Election Technology,” has been significantly compromised.
The best part is that sources close to the company say that Smartmatic, as part of their massive settlement, is going to demand an on-the-air apology from Fox News, including an admission that they lied about the “rigged election” and that Smartmatic is completely blameless. Smartmatic would be free to write the apology themselves. It would be particularly delicious if that mea culpa came from the King of Sleazy Lies himself, Tucker Carlson.
But it doesn’t stop there. Turns out that Fox News investors are going to be suing the network as well in what is known as a “derivative action.” In a derivative action the shareholders have cause to claim that the Fox News board of directors behaved with extreme recklessness placing their investors’ money at unnecessary risk. They should easily be able to establish that Fox Corporation breached its fiduciary duties by exposing itself to litigation. As these will be multiple lawsuits from several directions then there is no telling how much it will cost Fox News in the end.
In an action of extreme irony, Tucker Carlson’s producer is also suing Fox News. These are the lawsuits that we know about. There could be many, many more.
It seems to me that there are two types of culprits in this Fox News fiasco. First there are the nutjobs. People like Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Mike Lindell, the people who think Donald Trump is God. (The only thing Trump has in common with God is his constant need of money.)
The second are the cynical manipulators. Those include insiders like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. They know the election wasn’t rigged by Dominion or Smartmatic or anybody else, but they put the nutjobs on their shows anyway and promoted their ideas for ratings and money. And people in charge all the way up to Rupert Murdoch let them.
It’s a clear case of greedy people manipulating sick and stupid people cynically for money, done at the expense and to the detriment of honest companies performing a public service. It is a recipe for litigation disaster for Fox News. I think it could very easily lead to their insolvency. It would give me boundless joy to watch Donald Trump and Fox News go down in flames in the coming year. I’m sure you agree. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.