CSotD: The Unsettling Settlement

David Rowe captures the significance of the last-minute settlement between Fox and Dominion Voting Systems: It’s less a punishment for having spread malicious lies to a trusting audience than it is hush money paid to make a problem go away.

As he notes, the MAGA crowd will continue to play the role of gullible marks in the con job, loyally believing that the Emperor and the Fox crew who enable him are dressed in the finest, most beautiful garments that can only be seen by patriotic viewers smart enough to cut through the Deep State lies.

Tim Campbell (Counterpoint) calls it a chicken move and it’s very likely true that Rupert Murdoch did not want to see the carnival of himself and his prize media flunkeys forced to testify under oath that they had deliberately, knowingly lied to their audience.

On the other hand, despite Michael de Adder’s Sword-of-Damocles depiction of what was hanging over Fox’s head, they had the advantage of knowing that their core audience would never hear what other networks and other analysts said, and they somehow were able to leverage the settlement such that they were not forced to broadcast retractions on their own network.

Their official response skirted the issue with a dubious statement so lacking in frankness that, at CNN, Jake Tapper was unable to read it on the air without cracking up.

Matt Wuerker (Politico) mocks Fox’s astonishing, self-serving non-apology, in which it stated “This settlement reflects FOX’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.”

Which buggers the imagination, and that’s no misprint.

Meanwhile, they all but lied again in the statement, saying “We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false.”

On Twitter, CNN reporter Marshall Cohen offered this view of what the court had actually ruled:

In other words “certain claims” as in “everything we said.”

And what did Fox viewers learn? Not a whole lot, since Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity didn’t mention the settlement on their broadcasts last night, and, while Howard Kurtz did a brief report, he claimed that “A Dominion lawyer gave reporters a dollar figure for the segment, but I have not been able to independently confirm that.”

Not sure how he’d do that, unless he was hoping to watch Rupert Murdoch hand the money over a dollar at a time.

Which, by the way, I would enjoy seeing.

Clay Bennett (CTFP) suggests another spectacle, or at least a metaphorical exchange. I wish it were true in a literal sense, because I’d forego the public apology if the settlement had required Murdoch to drop trou on the courthouse steps.

However, I question the metaphorical approach because, while this is a substantial amount of money, Fox has a fantabulous amount of money, and, while the payout is a very big deal for Dominion’s bottom line, it’s a more complex hit for Fox.

That is, it certainly won’t discourage Smartmatic from taking all the discovery documents Dominion uncovered into court for their own lawsuit, hoping for a similar slap on Fox’s other wrist.

And this profligate loss of money, though it may not lead to Rupert’s yacht being repossessed, will add fuel to the shareholder lawsuits, one of which has been filed and others likely in the wings, since Fox’s irresponsible, dishonest actions led to a loss of value.

Still, as Michael Ramirez (Creators) suggests, Murdoch will simply pay his tab and be grateful it remains second to the $965 million Alex Jones has been ordered to pay, the difference being that Jones hasn’t ponied up.

We’ll see who ends up actually shelling out the most for having spread intentional lies.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Slyngstad and MacLeod both play with the Fox News logo, and I like them both, but there is a substantial difference: Slyngstad offers a view of how Fox will be regarded as a result of the settlement, which, as said, seems optimistic given their viewer loyalty and the way they were already regarded by everyone else in the first place.

MacLeod’s version is more in the “devoutly to be wished for” category, because, if anyone had doubts and quibbles before, the settlement, along with the judge’s rulings, makes it clear that Fox is not a news operation despite its own claims.

It is, at best, an entertainment channel offering viewers whatever they want to see and hear regardless of truth and, at worst, a propaganda outlet pushing a false extremist agenda.

As Nick Anderson (Counterpoint) suggests, they’re doing a damn fine job of keeping their audience in line.

“They all do it” was the barroom braggart’s reaction to Watergate, as well, but there wasn’t a major network then dedicated to amplifying ignorance.

It should be interesting to see if Newsmax and OAN ignore the scandal in order to continue to use the Big Lie for their own Biden-bashing or capitalize on the settlement to lure Fox viewers away, and ditto with talk radio.

If nothing else, they’re all likely hoping Smartmatic insists on a series of public retractions on Fox News.

Semi-Personal Recommendation

If you like my writing, you’d enjoy subscribing to Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s Substack, in which he covers a variety of, as he says, “news, pop culture, sports, and whatever else interests me.”

He’s somewhat taller than I am, he only shares his thoughts once a week and, as seen, he uses an Oxford comma. Beyond that, we both write in an effort to balance thoughtfulness, humor and righteous anger as needed. He nails it, consistently.

And though I’ve never met him and I don’t follow basketball, we also share a couple of friends, he through playing against them and me through being college buddies, which has always put him in the category of “If they like him, I’m sure I’d like him.”

But, while I wasn’t surprised that he was still in touch with our mutual friends Collis Jones and Sid Catlett, I hadn’t heard this story, which touched me and confirmed my positive take on the man.

However, it’s not just personal. In his latest newsletter, besides commenting on all that stuff in the above headline, he offers a link to a story about one of my favorite musicians:

As said, I strongly recommend his newsletter. You never know what he’ll bring up, but it’s always worth it.

7 thoughts on “CSotD: The Unsettling Settlement

  1. While the Dominion settlement made for good fun with visual metaphors for cartoonists, the reality is, Fox lost the battle but won the war, given there was no stipulation for Fox to issue an apology and acknowledge on air that they lied about the election being stolen due to rigged voting machines. The big lie continues unabated. The amount of the settlement means nothing to Murdoch as their viewers will remain as ignorant and loyal as they’ve always been.

    1. A couple of reasons for hope I saw in some comments elsewhere:
      1) Fox’s loyal audience is small and old, and getting smaller and older, in comparison to the much larger audience who has “heard of” Fox News. That “heard of” audience is now much more likely to think of Fox as lying trash than “just another news station.”
      2) The dollar amount might not be much compared to how much Fox is worth, but it’s a large enough amount to make shareholders pretty unhappy
      3) there are more lawsuits coming

  2. Thanks for sharing the Kareem clip referring about Sid Catlett. We had mutual friends in college and I can recall him enthusiastically playing a Sly and the Family Stone album in his dorm room for us. I wound up catching the group in concerts a couple times afterward.
    I did then subscribe on Substackas I’ve always admired Kareem throughout his career
    As for Dominion’s settlement,yes , I was disappointed but the impact will produce some slower moving aftershocks, like when Fox News gets its libel and slander insurance renewal cost, if they get an offer at all. I also wonder if the insurance they have would even cover the Dominion damages as most policies have exclusions for intentional acts

  3. Thanks for the Kareem link. He’s intelligent and insightful. I will follow him.

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