On April 18th, 2023, a historic settlement was reached between Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems. Though initially gunning for 1.6 billion dollars, Dominion is set to receive 787.5 million dollars from said settlement. This particular case shows Fox News being held responsible; but it's an indicator of the industry as a whole, not just one particular company. This case should serve as a “check yourself” moment for every media corporation; there is condemning, undeniable proof that says this must happen. Only, it won’t.
The suit was brought forth on grounds of defamation from the reporting of the 2020 election by Fox News. Dominion accused Fox of knowingly reporting misinformation about their voting machines, alluding that Trump votes were counted as Biden votes and that a community of dead people somehow awoke with the sole purpose of voting for Joe Biden (that old man currently decomposing in the Oval Office as we speak) before eternally resting again. Despite the election being proven precise numerous times in court (via supremacy appointed by Trump himself), Fox continued to riddle its viewers with falsehoods of a stolen election and provide election deniers a platform to spread theories with as many holes as a dirty dish sponge. Not long before what would’ve been the first day in court on April 18th, excruciating evidence was revealed to the public that blatantly showed Fox News had gerrymandered its reporting to benefit their ratings and profit and halt a mass exodus of viewership to competing conservative media outlets. Rather than respecting the nation that Fox reports to—nay the world Fox reports to—they chose to respect the lies of sore losers that couldn’t accept rightful defeat. A defeat that someone obtains every four years; this is nothing new. It’s impossible to measure the impact of Fox’s reporting—I’m quite timid to say what I’m about to say as it implies causation—but I can’t help but wonder: Would the events of January 6th, 2021, have occurred if Fox News reported the election aftermath differently?
Fox News isn’t the only media company to gerrymander reporting, they were just the most recent to get busted. No one believes CNN to be all-righteous. Or MSNBC. Or the Times. Or Bloomberg. Or WSJ. Or NewsMax. Or the Post. Or Breitbart. Should I go on? If one finds any of these outlets to be performing purely moral acts, one is far too delusional for their own good. It’s not just the red or just the blue that gerrymander—it’s any politician that wants power. Media outlets have the same mindset. This case is a testament to the state of modern media in its entirety. There is now hard evidence showing us that news corporations place a higher value on profit and reach and impact—i.e., power—than on truth. Instead of providing the general public with accurate information portraying events that took place, these conglomerates are more focused on reinforcing their own agenda and strengthening their own prosperity.
Now here’s the funny thing: none of what was done by Fox was illegal. I mean, prosperity is the goal of every company ever. If that’s not the goal of a company, it won’t survive in a capitalist society. Further, these corporations are constitutionally backed to say and publish whatever they see fit. The same way you can, and the same way I am right now with this little article, essay, commentary—whatever you want to call it. Yes—technically by law—Fox was punished in the form of three-quarters of a billion dollars for exercising their constitutional rights. However, just because what was done wasn’t illegal does not mean the act wasn’t wholly unethical and subject to defamation charges—especially when the said act is deliberately falsely informing millions for your own gain.
I repeat: Fox News is not the only one doing this. Other entities were listed not far up this page that do identical work themselves. This case must reveal to them that their tactics are being exposed. This case must reveal to them that the quality of reporting must be improved across the board. They are seeing it; they are acknowledging this. Almost exactly a week after the settlement, Fox abruptly cut all ties with Tucker Carlson—their highest-rated commentator and one of the driving forces of Fox’s misinformation. Further, and this one makes me really happy because this dude always rubbed me the wrong way, CNN blindsided Don Lemon and made him a free agent the same day Fox did Carlson. So, maybe the world isn’t such a bad place; maybe awful human beings like Don Lemon and Tucker Carlson do get what they deserve. Maybe, right?
Well, yes, there is good in the world if you look hard enough. But just because these two are gone doesn’t necessarily change the motives of their respective past employers. I’m cynical enough to believe both terminations were publicity stunts—or something with an ulterior motive other than correcting noxious journalism. I’m sorry, but I don’t have faith in either Fox or CNN—or anyone—to do this for any other reason until proven otherwise.
Rupert Murdoch’s pocketbook (that’s what he calls his wallet since he’s ninety-two and maybe in a further stage of decomposition than the sitting president) lost a large sum of money to a company that looks snack-sized when measured next to his own. However, the amount itself is not violent enough to slow down his conservative media steamroll; it did nothing but put a tiny, little dent in his vehicle. I mean, Fox has somewhere near four billion dollars in cash. I’ll say that again: in cash. Dominion managed to blemish Fox’s image forever, that much is sure, but they’re like me—a six-foot, hundred-forty-five-pound beast—trying to stop Lebron James from dunking all over me. I might provide an iota of competition every once in a while, (I’m stronger than I look), but in the grand scheme of things, if the King wants to dunk, the King is gonna dunk. Every fucking time. And there’s very little I can do about that.