Fox News media reporter refuses to reveal Dominion settlement amount on air

"I have not been able to independently confirm that,” Howard Kurtz said

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published April 19, 2023 8:50AM (EDT)

American Journalist Howard Kurtz (Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
American Journalist Howard Kurtz (Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

Fox News on Tuesday settled Dominion Voting Systems' defamation lawsuit for $787.5 million — but the network's own media reporter claimed he could not "independently confirm" the settlement amount on air.

Fox struck a deal with the voting machine company as the trial was set to start on Tuesday. Fox as part of the settlement acknowledged its falsehoods about the company in a statement but the network will not have to acknowledge them on air, according to CNN's Oliver Darcy.

"Don't expect hosts to have to read statements," Darcy tweeted.

Fox News media reporter Howard Kurtz reported the settlement during the 4 pm hour but claimed he did not know the settlement amount.

"A Dominion lawyer gave reporters a dollar figure for the settlement, but I have not been able to independently confirm that," Kurtz said.

Daily Beast media reporter Justin Baragona reported that Fox News host Neil Cavuto did mention the settlement amount, citing the Wall Street Journal, another outlet owned by Rupert Murdoch.

"Really stands out that the in-house media reporter just refused to tell Fox audiences the hefty settlement figure," Baragona tweeted.

Top Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity likewise did not reference the settlement at all during their broadcasts, according to Reuters. And Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake noted that "the Fox News website's story on the Dominion settlement is only 161 words long."

"It makes no mention of the dollar amount and little mention of the substance, which it summarizes as involving 'coverage of the post-2020 presidential election,'" he wrote.

Fox News in a statement on Tuesday said it was "pleased" to have reached the settlement.

"We acknowledge the Court's rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false," the statement said. "This settlement reflects FOX's continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards. We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial, allows the country to move forward from these issues."

Darcy on Twitter pointed out that it's "notable that the language Fox News uses in its statement acknowledging it aired election falsehoods is much softer than the usual run-of-the-mill correction issued for far smaller errors at actual news outlets."

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New York Times reporter Nick Confessore told MSNBC that despite the hefty settlement, the fact that the network does not have to air an apology makes it a "draw for Fox."

"Because, think about it, on any given night or week on Fox, they are telling a different version of the same story that Donald Trump should be president, that the Jan. 6th conspirators are innocent victims of government overreach, that they had a right to be angry, that something was, you know, amiss," he said. "That's the story that still animates the viewership on Fox. That's the story they tell every night."

CNN's Pamela Brown pressed Dominion lawyer Justin Nelson on why they did not push to make on-air apologies part of the settlement.

"Our goals were accountability, number one, and trying to have some semblance of a whole for Dominion as a company, to have some remuneration for the reputational hit that it has suffered and continues to suffer as a result of these lies. And those have been our goals all along. And today's settlement achieved that," Nelson said.

"This is a civil litigation case and what we think happened here was we took the civil litigation as far as we can take it," he added. "We could have gone all the way to verdict and under defamation law, you don't get an apology. You get money."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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Aggregate Dominion Voting Systems Fox News Howard Kurtz Politics