Port: Fox News won't be accountable until Fox News viewers stop wanting lies

"There will be no retractions from Fox News, despite a court finding they lied — just a big, fat settlement paid for by revenues from viewers who want to be lied to."

Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson, in 2019.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/TNS

MINOT, N.D. — A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a politically engaged Republican friend who described Dominion Voting System's defamation lawsuit against Fox News as an "act of civic hygiene."

And it was. Fox News has been ground zero for spreading lies and distortion in this political era dominated by Donald Trump. What the lawsuit has revealed, with insider texts and emails, about how Fox News operates — with producers and reporters, prime-time hosts, and top executives all prioritizing truth below what their audience wants to hear — has been invaluable.

People like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity know they've been peddling lies, Dominion's lawsuit has shown us. They don't even like their audience all that much. But there was money to be made, so they lied and apparently made enough money with the lies to make the defamation case go away.

As we all learned yesterday, Fox is paying Dominion a settlement of $787.5 million to avoid a trial where people like Carlson, Hannity, and even Rupert Murdoch himself would have had to take the stand and testify under oath. It's a big number, and we can't blame Dominion for taking the deal, but Fox is getting the better end.

In their statement announcing the settlement, Fox didn't even cop to the lies. “We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false," the cable news company said. "This settlement reflects FOX’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.”


In their own statement, Dominion's lawyers said Fox “admitted to telling lies" about their client. But that's not really true. Fox isn't admitting to anything. They're only acknowledging that the court found that they lied.

And the court did. It found that Hannity lied. Carlson lied. Maria Bartiromo lied, etc.

In their statement Fox News talks about a "continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards," yet there is evidently no requirement that Fox News make any retractions, or offer any on-air apologies for misleading their audience and dividing our country.

The company only acknowledged the court's "crystal clear" findings of whatever the opposite of the "highest journalistic standards" are.

Meanwhile, there's zero evidence that all this, well, evidence of Fox News lying to its audience is deterring that audience from tuning in. Fox continues to enjoy the largest cable news audience in the nation.

All you can do is laugh, I guess. Jake Tapper certainly couldn't help himself.

There are still other legal jeopardies facing Fox. Another voting company, Smartmatic, still has a multi-billion dollar lawsuit pending. A former Fox employee is also suing Fox for allegedly trying to shut her up about the defamation lawsuits.

But, given what just happened with Dominion, does anyone really think things are going to change?


The billions of dollars in revenues Fox News earns yearly proves there's big money in telling lies to people who want to hear them. Fox is an egregious example of this business model, but hardly the only one. And now Dominion's lawsuit against Fox proves you can get away with it, as long as you have enough money to pay the settlements.

I've long thought that what kept liars and charlatans in check was legal accountability, but that's not really true. It was actually the public's appetite for truth.

Once upon a time, people who were lied to would change the channel, or start reading another publication, but that's not happening anymore. Millions upon millions of Americans seem to want lies.

Left wing lies. Right wing lies. Whatever it is that will confirm what they already believe.

As long as that's true, there will be money to be made, and as long as companies like Fox are making money, nothing is going to change.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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