Much like a joyrider paying a speeding ticket, Fox has been forced to cough up — but won’t for one second consider slowing down.
As the world now knows, Fox News has settled with the Canadian firm Dominion Voting Systems for a jaw dropping $787 million — that’s real U.S. dollars, not our dollerettes.
Justice is served! Truth in reporting lives on!
But as the propaganda machine appeared to sputter, a gnawing sense of dissatisfaction emerged.
Sure, the gargantuan settlement says all that needs to be said about Fox’s culpability in this tawdry affair. But does it represent a genuine admission of guilt? A sincere expression of real remorse? Or is it simply a cynical, strategic corporate tactic to avoid devastating — perhaps even fatal — public humiliation?
I don’t think there is any doubt about the answer to those questions. It’s the latter. Much like a joyrider paying a speeding ticket, Fox has been forced to cough up — but won’t for one second consider slowing down.
Even if justice was served this time out, it was at the expense of truth.
To be sure, the payment is a bitter pill. But, for Fox News, it’s a necessary one. Why? Because to survive Fox must hold that remarkable spell it has cast over its audience. And these legal proceedings represented an existential challenge that threatened to break the spell. That’s because the proceedings threatened to give viewers a never-before-seen peak behind the curtain; one that revealed how that spell was created — and, crucially, sustained.
The network’s lawyers were, like greyhounds at the slip, eager to defend their client. Their strategy was simple: drag Fox’s alternate reality into the courtroom and argue that it was reasonable for Fox to take Trump and his attorneys at their word. After all, they would argue, Team Trump continually assured the network there was evidence to support claims of election fraud. This narrative would absolve Fox of any responsibility, the argument would go, as they were merely treating the president as a reliable source.
This article first appeared in the Toronto Star on April 23, 2023.