Fox News’ former top rating has been declining steadily as the $787 million defamation settlement with Dominion Voting Systems seems to be driving the changes in network executives and broadcast personalities. That lawsuit and others pertain to the Jan 6 events at the U.S. Capitol that are still being debated.
Fox still faces another $2.7 billion lawsuit filed by electronic voting machine company Smartmatic, as well as two shareholder lawsuits related to the Dominion settlement. “It is also facing a defamation suit filed last month by Ray Epps, a central figure in the Capitol incursion event of Jan. 6, 2021,” the Western Journal reported.
It seems that blame is being passed around, and professional casualties at Fox News are continuing.
According to The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, the network’s top legal officer, Viet Dinh, will be departing the company by the end of this year. “His strong position at the company waned following the settlement, some people familiar with the matter said,” the Journal reported.
The New York Times reported that instead of settling the Dominion lawsuit early, Dinh stuck with an “overly rosy scenario” that relied on free speech protections. Dominion sued Fox after multiple guests claimed the company helped rig the 2020 election outcome against then-President Donald Trump.
“He insisted that Fox was on firm legal footing and could take the case, if need be, all the way to the Supreme Court, where he believed the company would prevail on First Amendment grounds,” the Times reported.
Dinh worked in the George W. Bush administration and was a chief author of The Patriot Act as an assistant attorney general.
Conservative Brief noted that according to reports, Dinh chose not to settle the case until just hours before it was to go to trial, which allowed Dominion’s legal team to obtain copies of internal communications during the discovery phase. They indicated that management at Fox News was skeptical of the election rigging claims.
“Fox’s legal case was severely hindered when the judge ruled that it wasn’t entitled to use a First Amendment defense,” the Journal reported.
Mediaite reported that unnamed sources have said Dinh’s departure is directly related to the massive settlement. It may be that Dinh was not immediately let go due to his closeness with Murdoch. Mediaite noted that Dinh was a “close confidante” of Fox News CEO Lachlan Murdoch and was a godfather to one of his sons.
“He screwed up and mishandled all the legal and passed [Dominion] $787 million when they should’ve settled this right away,” a “source close to the Murdoch Camp” said. “He hung in there for a while only because he’s Lachlan’s son’s godfather.”
Another person allegedly told the outlet: “He cost the company $800 million in the lawsuit with another pending. It’s a no brainer: you don’t settle for $800 mill and jeopardize the prized asset of Fox News without a head rolling.”
Fox’s Top Lawyer, Viet Dinh, Will Depart https://t.co/6DsqVHHuyN
— Tatiana Rivera (@TatianaRiver2) August 17, 2023
For his part, Murdoch is officially praising Viet as he lets him go.
Conservative Brief reports that in a statement, Murdoch said: “We appreciate Viet’s many contributions and service to Fox as both a board member of 21st Century Fox and in his role over the last five years as a valued member of Fox’s leadership team.”
The mosst high profile casualty at Fox News after the Dominion settlement started the slow decline of the network was the decision to take Tucker Carlson off the air with virtually no notice in late April. Carlson’s populaarity at the newortk, and his subsequent immediate success in broadcasting his reports through Twitter, have not reflected well for the network.
Conservtive Brief reports that new information reveals that Lachlan Murdoch and Suzanne Scott, chief executive of Fox News Media, decided to fire Carlson, making it seem like Carlson was unpopular and difficult.
“The power that Mr. Carlson, 53, wielded outside Fox News could not insulate him from a growing list of troubles inside the network related to his conduct on and off the air, some of which had been grating on Mr. Murdoch and his father, Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox Corporation, who co-founded the network in 1996, according to the two people with knowledge of the company’s decision,” it was reported.
“The host, a polarizing and unpopular figure at the network outside of his staff, was exposed as part of a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems as a bully who denigrated colleagues and sources, often in profane and sexist language, and called for the firing of Fox journalists whose coverage he disliked. He has also drawn condemnation from the right and left for his role in fostering a revisionist account of the assault on the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021,” the outlet added.
But although it is difficult to track how many views Carlson has through Twitter, NBC News reported that in June Carlson “netted roughly 26 million video views” for one of his stories, and his average is in the millions with all stories. Carlson is obviously providing information that America wants to hear, whether those in the liberal media like it or not.