Fig. 1. “Jake Angeli (Qanon Shaman), seen holding a Qanon sign at the intersection of Bell Rd and 75th Ave in Peoria, Arizona, on 2020 October 15.” Photography by TheUnseen011101 [pseud.], October 15, 2020, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
There is a classic paradox in which bad actors may abuse the very so-called “freedom of speech” that they would not allow upon gaining power. It’s often seen as a weakness, where so-called “democracy” waters the seeds of its own demise. But this can happen in other ways as well.
It looks like the Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News settlement is literally a cost of doing business for the respondent, therefore tax deductible, therefore easing the hit on the network’s finances, therefore leaving money to settle the Smartmatic suit. Meanwhile,
[t]he constellation of conservative networks and right-wing websites that promote those falsehoods may just become more adept at spreading conspiracy theories and baseless claims, election officials and misinformation experts say, such as by avoiding naming companies and individuals. . . .
[Richard L.] Hasen said Fox News and other outlets are “going to be less likely to make statements about individuals or companies who could be defamed.” But the need to keep viewership high could lead to decision-making driven more by ratings than truth, as illustrated by documents — released as part of the lawsuit — that showed an all-out push to stay on top of smaller right-wing cable network Newsmax.
See “cost of doing business.” See “freedom of speech.”
Erin Mulvaney, Isabella Simonetti, and Joe Flint, “Fox News Defamation Trial Delayed Amid Network’s Push to Settle Dispute,” Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/fox-news-dominion-prepare-for-battle-in-1-6-billion-defamation-trial-fad2e9a6
Jeremy W. Peters and Katie Robertson, “Fox Disputes Possible Damages as Judge Delays Defamation Trial,” New York Times, April 17, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/17/business/fox-dominion-trial-delay.html
David Bauder, Randall Chase, and Geoff Mulvihill, “Lawsuit against Fox for false election claims heads to trial,” Associated Press, April 18, 2023, https://apnews.com/article/fox-news-dominion-lawsuit-trial-trump-2020-0ac71f75acfacc52ea80b3e747fb0afe
Aaron Blake, “4 takeaways from the Dominion v. Fox settlement,” Washington Post, April 18, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/04/18/fox-news-dominion-takeaways/
Meg James, “Fox News-Dominion settlement doesn’t end crisis for Rupert Murdoch’s empire,” Los Angeles Times, April 18, 2023, https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2023-04-18/fox-news-dominion-settlement-fallout-rupert-murdochs-empire
Erin Mulvaney, Joe Flint, and Isabella Simonetti, “Fox to Pay $787.5 Million to Settle Dominion’s Defamation Lawsuit,” Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/fox-news-dominion-defamation-trial-set-to-begin-d5c7293a
Jose Pagliery, “Trump’s Fake Georgia Electors Are Now Ratting on Each Other,” Daily Beast, April 18, 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/trumps-fake-georgia-electors-are-now-ratting-on-each-other
Jonathan Lai, “Pa. Supreme Court angrily sanctions county for violating order on Dominion voting machines,” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 19, 2023, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/fulton-county-dominion-voting-machines-sanctions-pa-supreme0court-20230419.html
Patrick Marley and Jeremy Barr, “After Fox settlement, experts warn election falsehoods will persist,” Washington Post, April 19, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/media/2023/04/19/fox-news-settlement-election-falsehoods/
Jane Martinson, “Fox News and Rupert Murdoch have been humiliated, but they won’t change their ways,” Guardian, April 19, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/apr/19/fox-news-rupert-murdoch-defamation-settlement-electoral-fraud
Brian Stelter, “Fox News, Unapologetic and Unwavering, Steams Ahead After Staggering Dominion Settlement,” Vanity Fair, April 19, 2023, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2023/04/fox-news-dominion-lawsuit-settlement
Amy B. Wang, Elahe Izadi, and Patrick Marley, “Fox News still faces $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit from Smartmatic,” Washington Post, April 19, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/media/2023/04/18/fox-news-smartmatic-defamation-lawsuit/
Chris Dehghanpoor, Emma Brown, and Jon Swaine, “Mike Lindell’s firm told to pay $5 million in ‘Prove Mike Wrong’ election-fraud challenge,” Washington Post, April 20, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2023/04/20/mike-lindell-prove-wrong-contest/
Bess Levin, “In Comically Evil Twist, Fox Will Receive a Huge Tax Break From Its Dominion Settlement,” Vanity Fair, April 20, 2023, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2023/04/fox-news-dominion-settlement-tax-break
Philip Bump, “Trump’s message to young men: American democracy is all but gone,” Washington Post, April 21, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/04/21/trump-democracy-young-white-men/
Fig. 1. “Destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk are seen as part of the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine in Kyiv, August 24.” Photograph by Gleb Garanich for Reuters, August 24, 2022, fair use.
Naiara Galarraga Gortázar, “Russian foreign minister’s meeting with Brazilian President Lula rankles the West,” El País, April 18, 2023, https://english.elpais.com/international/2023-04-18/russian-foreign-ministers-meeting-with-brazilian-president-lula-rankles-the-west.html
Stephen Sestanovich, “Ukraine’s Counteroffensive: Will It Retake Crimea?” Council on Foreign Relations, April 19, 2023, https://www.cfr.org/in-brief/ukraines-counteroffensive-will-it-retake-crimea
Ishaan Tharoor, “Brazil’s Lula reaches out to China and Russia, stoking U.S. unease,” Washington Post, April 19, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2023/04/19/brazil-china-russia-lula-multipolar/
- Bess Levin, “In Comically Evil Twist, Fox Will Receive a Huge Tax Break From Its Dominion Settlement,” Vanity Fair, April 20, 2023, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2023/04/fox-news-dominion-settlement-tax-break↩
- Amy B. Wang, Elahe Izadi, and Patrick Marley, “Fox News still faces $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit from Smartmatic,” Washington Post, April 19, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/media/2023/04/18/fox-news-smartmatic-defamation-lawsuit/↩
- Patrick Marley and Jeremy Barr, “After Fox settlement, experts warn election falsehoods will persist,” Washington Post, April 19, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/media/2023/04/19/fox-news-settlement-election-falsehoods/↩
- Reuters, “Ukraine puts destroyed Russian tanks on display in Kyiv,” August 25, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/ukraine-puts-destroyed-russian-tanks-on-idUSRTSALV9Q↩