With Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation case against Fox News set to begin, my friends at the network, of whom I have none, find themselves in a bind.
They’re wedged between a known lie they promoted – the preposterous claim that voting machines “rigged” the 2020 election against former President Donald Trump – and the ever-needy, endlessly noisy former president himself, who wants Fox News to keep lying so he can keep believing he won, and keep fleecing suckers who share that belief.
It seems clear the alleged news organization’s best option was to settle the case, admit the network promoted the enormous lie that the 2020 election was stolen and start moving tractor-trailers filled with cash to Dominion’s headquarters. With the trial expected to start Tuesday in Delaware, that doesn't appear to be happening.
Dominion has Fox News in a vise
Fox News’ reputation has taken a beating from just the pretrial court documents released to the public, which showed, via electronic messages and quotes from depositions, that executives and hosts sure seemed to know that the claims against Dominion were baseless. The network could prevail in the case, but even if it does, imagine what weeks of trial coverage featuring testimony from blunt instruments like Maria Bartiromo, Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity might do.
And if Fox News loses, it could be on the hook for the $1.6 billion Dominion is seeking.
Donald Trump desperately wants Fox News to keep lying
So the smart move would be to settle, even if the trial begins without a settlement, right?
Perhaps in a parallel universe that doesn’t have a Donald Trump. But in this one, Fox News executives have the former president screaming in their ears via a Truth Social post Monday: “IF FOX WOULD FINALLY ADMIT THAT THERE WAS LARGE SCALE CHEATING & IRREGULARITIES IN THE 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, WHICH WOULD BE A GOOD THING FOR THEM, & FOR AMERICA, THE CASE AGAINST THEM, WHICH SHOULD NOT HAVE EXISTED AT ALL, WOULD BE GREATLY WEAKENED. BACK UP THOSE PATRIOTS AT FOX INSTEAD OF THROWING THEM UNDER THE BUS - & THEY ARE RIGHT! THERE IS SOOO MUCH PROOF, LIKE MASS BALLOT STUFFING CAUGHT ON GOVERNMENT CAMERAS, FBI COLLUDING WITH TWITTER & FACEBOOK, STATE LEGISLATURES NOT USED, etc.”
This seems like a good time to mention the person who wrote that all-caps string of paranoid nonsense is presently the front-runner for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination. But I digress.
I would feel bad for Fox News if I didn't think they deserve every bit of this
With the Trump threat and the trial beginning, I might feel bad for the folks at Fox News if I didn’t hold them responsible for driving millions of Americans down faux-culture-war and conspiracy rabbit holes from which they’ll never emerge. (For more on that, ask the uncle you stopped talking to in 2016.)
The network has been a mouthpiece for the GOP for so long, the party line leads you straight into Fox News' studios. From fearmongering about former President Barack Obama's religion to fluffing Trump's ego throughout his presidency, the network would need a shot of epinephrine if it were ever exposed to objectivity.
I guess what I’m trying to say to Fox News is: You’re facing an impossible situation of your own making and there’s no good way out. LOL!
Fox News could, you know, start telling the truth
Even if the trial begins, a settlement is still possible if Dominion's lawyers start mopping the floor with Fox News' lack of credibility.
But at the end of the day, there are no good outcomes for a network that, as long as I can remember, has allowed people to lie on air without consequence. It has been a theater for the maliciously absurd, and it has damaged our society.
I hope Fox News officials have to admit they peddled harmful, rotten, opportunistic bunk. I hope they see the light and start broadcasting the truth, then in turn lose their entire audience.
At the same time, I hope they don’t settle and get dragged for eternity by Trump and his MAGA minions, the very monsters they created.
All these options are fine with me and, I’d guess, many Americans who have spent years decrying the network’s dishonesty.
Any consequence is a welcome consequence. And any one will do.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: With Fox News, Dominion settlement, I hope the network finds truth