Image source: Twitter video, @Townhallcom - Screenshot
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Fox News agreed Tuesday to pay Dominion Voting Systems $787.5 million (roughly one-quarter of Fox News' reported gross earnings in 2022) to settle its $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit and avoid a protracted trial.
Leftists, Democratic operatives, and others in the liberal media establishment celebrated this setback for Fox News, suggesting it was a well-deserved penalty for asking sensitive questions and entertaining a narrative that ultimately collapsed under scrutiny.
According to legal experts, liberals' jubilation today at the conservative outlet's expense may soon come back to haunt them.
CNN host Jake Tapper, who refused to apologize for advancing a false narrative for years when it ultimately crumbled, giggled when reading his script about Fox News' misfortune.
Tapper said, "I’m sorry. This is going to be difficult to say with a straight face."
\u201cTotally-not-a-liberal-activist Jake Tapper can't contain his glee while reading Fox News' statement concerning their settlement with Dominion live on CNN.\u201d— Townhall.com (@Townhall.com) 1681849785
Those signing Tapper's paychecks may soon find it difficult to smile.
Mike Davis, founder of the Article III Project and former chief counsel for nominations to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, indicated that the Dominion lawsuit has set a new standard, whereby the New York Post could be justified in filing a "billion-dollar defamation lawsuit" against news outlets that "reported the claim it ran a Russian disinformation campaign."
CNN, like Politico and other liberal outfits, infamously downplayed the Hunter Biden laptop story when the New York Post first broke it in October 2020.
TheBlaze previously reported that after the Post published the story revealing some of Hunter Biden's many apparent ethical failures, then-CNN Host Brian Stelter said, "There's a lot about this story that does not add up. ... And, I mean, for all we know, these emails were made up, or maybe some are real and some are fakes, we don't know. But we do know that this is a classic example of the right-wing media machine."
"We are not talking about fully reliable sources here," Stelter said, referring to the Post's story, stressing that it was a "manufactured scandal."
CNN Business elevated Stelter's apparent smears against the Post in an article entitled, "The anatomy of the New York Post's dubious Hunter Biden story."
In one of many other instances in which the outlet denigrated the Post and served to advance a false narrative about the Hunter Biden laptop story, Jake Tapper expressed disgust in an October segment, claiming "the right wing is going crazy with all sorts of allegations about Biden and his family. Too disgusting to even repeat here."
The New York Post was not the only target of CNN's possibly actionable smears. CNN also hounded the computer repairman who first blew the whistle on the Hunter Biden laptop scandal.
John Paul Mac Isaac, the owner of the Delaware computer shop, filed a lawsuit against CNN last year, in which he accuses CNN of broadcasting a "false and defamatory story" that intimated Mac Isaac had committed "an infamous crime, i.e., treason by working with the Russians to commit a crime against the United States of America by attempting to undermine American democracy and the 2020 Presidential election."
Undermining the First Amendment
Matt Mackowiak, chairman of the Travis County GOP and president of Potomac Strategy Group, appears to agree that the consequences of the Dominion lawsuit will be sweeping, noting in the Washington Examiner, "The case has significant implications for the First Amendment."
While it "appears to be a loaded weapon trained on the heart of one cable news network, its true target is our treasured independent and free press."
Mackowiak suggested that the claims about Dominion that Fox News raised "were no question newsworthy. A sitting president's legal claims in a hotly contested presidential election are newsworthy. Full stop. And if professionals at news outlets cannot cover issues in good faith when raised by such prominent officials in the middle of a contested election, the media will be dead."
Like Davis, Mackowiak indicated that liberals and liberal outlets have long gotten away with peddling information and claims that turned out to be untrue if not outright malicious. But "If Fox is found liable under this standard of anyone at the company having doubts, no media outlet will ever be safe."
"It’s a gift to every green energy company lobbying for corrupt funding, every tech company censoring accounts, and every woke corporate actor engaged in preposterous diversity, equity, and inclusion policies that will use it to silence investigative journalists, criticism, and debate," added Mackowiak.
Cheering on an explosive boomerang
Former Attorney General William Barr stressed in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece late last month that liberal outlets, "blinded by resentment at Fox’s success as an alternative media voice," have parroted Dominion's spin at their peril.
"The theory advanced by Dominion is profoundly dangerous to the media industry as whole. Memories are very short and imaginations very limited if the left thinks that only Fox would be vulnerable to lawsuits in a world where defamation liability could be incurred for simply reporting allegations made by others," wrote Barr.
Barr cited the liberal media's false claims of "Russian collusion" and the "lurid allegations" advanced on networks such as CNN by Michael Avenatti during the Senate confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh among the instances when outlets exposed themselves to the reasoning behind this week's defamation suit settlement.
After reiterating that Fox News was well within its rights to have reported on the Dominion story, Barr concluded, "The left should think twice about cheering for Dominion in this case. While the left has more artillery, it also has more targets for defamation cases as left-wing media outlets far outnumber conservative ones."
An attorney for Dominion — a company given an $80 million valuation by a private equity group in 2018 — addressed mainstream reporters after the settlement was reached with Fox News, thanking them "for being with us on this journey. We appreciate what you've done to help us."
\u201cDominion attorney THANKS media for being its lapdog in campaign to destroy conservative media and First Amendment.\n\nHow embarrassing for the media to be thanked for their help in a lawsuit against a media organization.\n\nThe left-wing media hates Fox News more than they care about\u2026\u201d— \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 Mike Davis \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 (@\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 Mike Davis \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8) 1681853286
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Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.