Fox Attorney Says Dominion Settlement Should ‘Buy Peace,’ Seeks to Keep Redactions Intact

How much should it cost to end media scrutiny on the internal workings of a news organization? Fox Corp. thinks an outlay of $787.5 million ought to be sufficient.

In a letter filed Wednesday with the Superior Court of the State of Delaware, an attorney for Fox Corp. sought to keep redactions intact in documents supporting the case, and pressed a judge to keep media organizations from being able to examine the evidence further.

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“Fox agreed to settle this case to buy peace and bring an end to the media spectacle that the case had become,” says Katherine L. Mowery, an attorney representing Fox Corp. in its bid to quell further releases pertaining to its recent defamation settlement agreement with ballot-technology firm Dominion Voting Corp.

The New York Times, National Public Radio and The Associated Press on May 1 renewed a request to have certain redactions in documents cited in the discovery process for the case lifted, potentially in hopes there are new details to be learned about the firing of former Fox News primetime host Tucker Carlson. Carlson’s abrupt exit from the network has been attributed to everything from a decision by Rupert Murdoch, Fox’s executive chairman, to things the host may have said in texts and emails that were subpoenaed for the Dominion case. None of the theories plumbed so far by news outlets seems credible enough to stand on its own.

“The media parties have already obtained thousands and thousands of private emails and text messages between Fox employees. They have not been shy about sharing the communications with the most potential to grab headlines, without regard to the information’s centrality or even relevance to any issues resolved in the litigation,” says Mowery. “The documents that remain under seal have even less to do with the issues in this now-settled case, and most were never relied upon by the Court in any of its decisions or even by the parties in any of their briefs.

Fox agreed to pay the $787.5 million to Dominion Voting after the voting concern alleged Fox News aired false claims about its actions and influence on the 2020 election. It is the second legal proceeding made against Fox News for its coverage of the aftermath of the 2020 race for the White House. Smartmatic, a separate voting technology company, has filed a massive $2.7 billion suit against Fox News that is still pending. Both suits alleged that Fox News falsely claimed the companies had rigged the election, repeated items about the matter and then refused to engage in efforts to set the record straight. The 2020 election was not fixed and its results were certified by multiple legal processes.

“Fox agreed to settle this case, with this Court’s encouragement, in large part to bring to an end the continued media spectacle, and chill on First Amendment rights, that this case had become,” says Mowery. Granting access to the redactions, she argued further, ” would create profoundly perverse incentives the next time parties are encouraged to settle a high-profile trial. After all, if $787.5 million is not enough to buy peace, parties will certainly think twice before settling in the future.”

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