Our Best Stuff From the Week Fox News Paid Up

Justin Nelson, joined by fellow members of the Dominion Voting Systems legal team, speaks to members of the media outside the Leonard Williams Justice Center in Wilmington, Delaware, on April 18, 2023. (Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

Hello and happy Saturday. First off, I wanted to thank all of you who played along with my thought experiment last week and shared what you would want to see in a third-party platform. There were some great ideas and it was a very healthy conversation. Coincidentally, Sarah wrote about third parties in Permanent Campaign (🔒) this week, and she threw a small bucket of cold water on the idea: She points out that while 49 percent of Americans now identify as independents, that doesn’t mean they agree on much of anything, and, well, “as these voters have left the two major parties, their voting behavior hasn’t actually changed.” Nevertheless, I find such conversations fascinating and it’s encouraging to see smart people having reasonable discussions about issues that actually matter. (And Sarah’s got some great stuff on how and why the parties have gotten so extreme.)

The big news this week, of course, was that Fox News settled its defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million. Reaction to the settlement was mixed among those who had hoped to see Fox News personalities like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity have to testify, or wanted the network to have to fork over the whole $1.6 billion Dominion sued for, or at least have to see Fox News hosts have to grovel through on-air apologies for having aired lies about the election and Dominion. But that’s still a big chunk of change, and Dominion doesn’t have to endure a long appeals process that will add to its legal fees or risk having the settlement reversed or even the verdict overturned. (I don’t normally try to send you away from The Dispatch ecosystem, but my friend Mike Pesca interviewed NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik on his podcast, The Gist, and they dive into why the settlement was a smart business decision for Dominion.) 

We sent Harvest to Delaware, all ready to cover the trial, but it was a short trip. Her report on how Fox settled after all of its dirty laundry aired in the leadup to the trial can be found in The Morning Dispatch. Nick was watching from home, and he shares his rollercoaster of reactions as the settlement was announced and then other details emerged. He landed on cynicism, noting that Fox News barely mentioned the settlement in its programming: “That Fox would strain so mightily to ignore and obscure the truth in its own coverage proves the point of the settlement, ironically: It’s a propaganda outlet, not a news network.” And Sarah, Jonah, and Steve offer their own reactions on The Dispatch Podcast.

As you’ll see below, the Fox settlement wasn’t the only news of the week. The 2024 campaign continues apace: Ron DeSantis was in D.C. this week trying to drum up support from congressional Republicans, Donald Trump is doing his best to avoid talking about abortion policy, and things are getting pretty ugly in Sudan.  Peering into my crystal ball, I can tell you that we have another week of great stories coming up. 

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