FOX Settles Dominion BUT Faces $2.7B Lawsuit from Smartmatic USA

by James DiGeorgia Opinion | 04/20/2023 1:28 PM
FOX Settles Dominion BUT Faces $2.7B Lawsuit from Smartmatic USA

While Donald J. Trump steams over the $787.50 million settlement and far-right pundits complain that Fox settled too easily, the network’s troubles are far from over.

After so much of Fox News’s dishonesty and reckless regard for the truth has been exposed, Fox must now contend with a second defamation suit filed by a rival of Dominion, another voting machine company, Smartmatic USA, which is demanding $2.7 billion.

While the lawsuit filed by Smartmatic USA isn’t enough, a group of Fox Corporation (NasdaqGS: FOX) shareholders also are lining up with their own lawsuits, alleging that Rupert Murdoch and other board members were derelict in their duties by allowing Fox News to promote the election lies, which harmed the network's reputation as a news organization.

The revelations made public by emails, text messages, document production, tape recordings, and depositions disclosed in the court motions concerning Murdoch and high-profile hosts, including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Maria Bartiromo, irreparably expose FOX for a hailstorm of lawsuits for exactly what the company thought it needed to do to maintain its audience and profitability. There’s no arguing the truth that. Murdoch, its management, and talent knew, and know former President Trump's "stolen election" claims were and continue to be bogus.

Fox subsidiary Fox News' put big profits ahead of reporting the news and telling the truth to its millions of viewers and now is looking at billions in civil lawsuits. The settlement with Dominion Voting is just the beginning of the litigation settlement merry-go-round.

Fox’s 92-year-old mogul; his son Lachlan, the company's chief executive; and their anchors from the embarrassment of both taking the witness stand in a courtroom packed with reporters and having a long list of current and ex-employees publicly expose the network’s pathological lies in service to Trump and his ardent supporters in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

Making the next batch of lawsuits even more difficult to defend is FOX’s restoration of the twice-impeached, defeated loser and now indicted former President as a regular on FOX, allowing him to spin old and new lies. Lies that have no basis, in fact.

Smartmatic USA management and lawyers, as well as Fox’s litigious shareholders and numerous class action lawyers, must be giddy at the prospect of suing such an exposed and weakened goliath with a CEO that has been knee-capped that has spent millions of dollars over the last decade paying victims of phone hacking by Murdoch's now-defunct British tabloid and now must layout another $787,500,000.

It's amazing that Murdoch’s Fox Corporation (NasdaqGS: FOX) is still trading for over $30 a share. The risk to shareholders could be in excess of another $2.7 billion if one assumes the pathological conservative network has to pay off the litany of lawsuits at slightly less than 50 cents on the dollar.
The bigger problem, of course, is what comes after it deals with the hailstorm of litigation still to come. By turning back and feeding the demand of its viewers, Conman Trump could result in new liability.

The costs of this strategy will cost FOX another $100 million in legal fees to settle these claims created by its past recklessness and disregard for the facts. New liability allows the deception they know not to be true to continue could pile on much more in legal expenses.

Murdoch isn’t up to the legal wars ahead. Yale University management professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld said Tuesday.

"There's a huge amount of evidence that Murdoch is not at the top of his game," "The best case for him would be to acknowledge that he's lost control of the Fox-enstein monster that he created."

Professor Sonnenfeld fails to point out that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein monster kills his creator in the end.

The LA Times points out correctly…

“Murdoch's own testimony, given in late January during a deposition on the Fox studio lot in West Los Angeles, hurt the company's case, Sonnenfeld and others have argued. During that deposition, Murdoch acknowledged that Fox News hosts, including Bartiromo and Hannity, had "endorsed" the lies — far beyond listening passively or pushing back on claims made by Trump's supporters.”

Emails revealed that Murdoch, the company's chairman, was uncomfortable with the election fraud claim, calling it "crazy stuff" — yet the amplifications of the lies continued.

When asked during the deposition whether he had the authority to stop the distortions, Murdoch replied: "I could have. But I didn't."

Such acknowledgments suggested Fox News' leadership was indifferent to the truth, which further weakened their defense in the Dominion case and will put them in deep legal danger as Smartmatic USA and its litigious shareholders press their claims in state courts. Dominion brought its case in Delaware, which has no cap on punitive damages providing a strong incentive for FOX to settle. In New York, where Smartmatic USA filed suit against Fox, there is no cap on punitive damages.

A New York state appeals court on February 14, 2023, rejected Fox News' bid to dismiss a multibillion-dollar defamation lawsuit accusing the network of falsely accusing an electronic voting systems company of helping rig the 2020 U.S. presidential election to favor Joe Biden over Donald Trump.

Last week, Smartmatic filed a motion seeking the Supreme Court of New York to compel Fox to “reproduce all relevant documents and depositions from the Dominion actions.”

The filing hit the court docket as the Delaware judge presiding over Dominion's case sanctioned Fox News for withholding evidence. There’s no way Fox will get away without having a court master appointed to dig through every corner of Fox and its employee’s hiding places by either the Delaware Judge or the New York Judge hearing the Smartmatic case against Fox News.

Murdoch can’t allow the testimony that he was asked by Fox News chief Suzanne Scott on Jan. 5, 2021 — on the eve of Trump's rally on the Mall in Washington and the January 6, 2021 riot on the Capitol — if Fox's prime-time anchors — Hannity, Carlson, and Laura Ingraham — could announce “something like ‘the election is over, and Joe Biden won,

Murdoch reportedly admitted that it “would go a long way to stop the Trump myth” that the election was stolen. But instead, made no such attempt to prevent the attempt to overthrow the US government.

Scott told a lieutenant: “I told Rupert that privately they are all there — we need to be careful about using the shows and pissing off the viewers, but they know how to navigate.”

In the lawsuit filed by Smartmatic against, which also accuses Fox News of defamation in the aftermath of the 2020 election, lawyers representing Fox Corp. shareholders are preparing lawsuits to seize on some of the evidence presented by Dominion.

The first such shareholder lawsuit was filed last week in Delaware.

"Fox executives and hosts knew that Trump’s election fraud claims were 'really crazy stuff,' as Rupert Murdoch, the head of the Fox media empire, put it, yet pushed them on air anyway," according to a lawsuit filed by a Fox shareholder, Robert Schwarz..

"Fox was more concerned about short-term ratings and market share than the long-term damages of its failure to tell the truth," Schwarz's suit said. "The board’s decision to chase viewers by promoting the false stolen election claims has exposed the company to public ridicule and negatively impacted the credibility of Fox News as a media organization that is supposed to report newsworthy events accurately."

We at see all this chaos as a profit opportunity and recommended our readers short 2000 shares of Fox Corporation (NasdaqGS: FOX) $31.17, the market opening price on April 13, 2023. We believe FOX faces the real possibility of having to declare bankruptcy sometime in 2025 when the Smartmatic lawsuit goes to trial, and it’s forced to defend shareholder lawsuits. Reports indicate as many as 11 class action law firms are pouring through the Dominion evidence that was made public.


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