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Now We Know How Much Fox Will Pay to Avoid the Truth Coming Out in Federal Court
... and why I'm disappointed over the Settlement
It’s nice to know that Fox News didn’t lose its sense of humor despite having to write a very hefty check for nearly $800 million to avoid a trial that would have shown the world that it knowingly promoted lies about the supposedly “stolen” 2020 presidential election.
The reason I say Fox didn’t lose its sense of humor is because, after they paid Dominion $787,500,000, they issued a statement that said in part, “This settlement reflects FOX’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.”
If that’s not funny, I don’t know what is.
Does Fox believe that putting Donald Trump’s allies on their shows to peddle crazy, unsubstantiated conspiracy stories about how Dominion’s voting machines were rigged to help Joe Biden win the election … reflects “Fox’s continued commitment to the highest standards of journalism”?
Does Fox believe that repeatedly and knowingly putting out fake news is proof that it has a “continued commitment to the highest standards of journalism”?
Or does the Fox PR genius who came up with that line have a clue as to what constitutes “the highest standards of journalism”? And does that PR flak even care?
But at least we know one thing: We know how much Fox was willing to pay to make sure its lies weren’t unmasked in a federal courtroom.
Truth be told, a lot of us are disappointed over the settlement. Because now we won’t get to hear big-name hosts — like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Maria Bartiromo, and others — tell their stories, under oath, about how they knew what they were putting on television was false information — but put it out anyway.
It would have been fun to hear them admit how corrupt they are.
Fox promoted those lies for just one reason: To hang on to its hard-core viewers, a segment of the Fox audience that didn’t want to hear that Joe Biden won the election fair and square, that Donald Trump’s story about a rigged election was a fairy tale concocted by a delusional loser.
I suspect Fox won’t lose any of those loyal viewers even though they were played for fools. They don’t watch Fox to get honest journalism — they watch to get the kind of information they want. And they didn’t want to hear that Donald Trump lost, that the election wasn’t rigged, that Joe Biden really was the newly-elected legitimate president.
Former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly weighed in on the settlement, writing that, “This is what happens when money becomes more important than honest information. Since I left FNC [Fox News Channel], the template changed from ‘Fair and Balanced’ to ‘tell the audience what it wants to hear.’ And millions of Trump voters, to this day, want to believe the 2020 election was rigged.”
Here’s another reason I’m disappointed: Those big name hosts on Fox who promoted the fake news stories about the election won’t have to go on the air and admit what they did. They won’t have to look right into the camera — and for a change — tell their audience the truth. They won’t have to say that “We knew what we were telling you — what the guests we put on our shows were telling you — was false… but we did it anyway, because we think you’re a bunch of zealots who are as crazy as your savior, Donald J. Trump.”
Who knows if any heads will roll. Rupert Murdoch, the boss of all bosses at Fox, won’t fire himself for leading such a corrupt business organization. Will Suzanne Scott, the Fox News CEO, be thrown under the proverbial bus? She should be. She’s the one who came up with the slogan, “Respect the audience,” which doesn’t mean to tell them the truth; it means “Tell those chuckleheads what they want to hear so they’ll continue watching Fox, and won’t leave for even less scrupulous right-wing outfits like Newsmax.”
Will Hannity or Carlson get canned for misleading their audience? That’s not a real question. Of course they won’t. You don’t get fired for lying at Fox — not when you’re the ones bringing in the big money. But you can get fired at Fox for telling the truth.
That’s what happened to Chris Stirewalt (who I spoke to recently), the head of the election team at Fox who early-on said Joe Biden won Arizona’s electoral votes and therefore would win the election. That wasn’t what Fox viewers wanted to hear. So Chris had to go.
And while it’s disappointing that we were deprived of a trial, it’s not all that surprising. Did Fox really want its star propagandists — and Rupert Murdoch himself — to testify under oath that they were all part of a giant fake news campaign? Did they want to have to admit to the world, under oath, that they cared more about ratings than honest journalism?
This isn’t the end of litigation for Fox News. Another voting machine company, Smartmatic, is suing Fox for $2.7 billion. “Dominion litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign,” a lawyer for Smartmatic said. “Smartmatic will expose the rest.”
We can only hope.
But despite all that’s come out about the ingrained dishonesty at Fox News following the 2020 presidential election, it’s good to know that FNC still has a “continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.”
Tell me when you stop laughing.