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Saturday, April 22, 2023

Dominion’s C.E.O.: We Settled the Lawsuit Against Fox News, but We’re Not Done Yet

Dominion’s C.E.O.: We Settled the Lawsuit Against Fox News, but We’re Not Done Yet

Illustration by Sam Whitney/The New York Times; photograph by Julio Cortez/Associated Press

By John Poulos

“Mr. Poulos is a co-founder and the chief executive of Dominion Voting Systems.

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Vindication. Shame. Triumph. Tragedy. Surrender. These are a few of the characterizations I’ve heard following our recent settlement with Fox News in our historic defamation case against the network for its lies about Dominion Voting Systems and the 2020 election.

The public has complicated feelings about our decision to end this trial before it ever began, and that’s OK. It’s bittersweet for us, too.

We’ve seen the havoc that lies create for societies, democracies, businesses and families. Over the past two and a half years, I’ve watched it firsthand. My customers, employees, family and friends face harassment, discrimination and threats to this day.

But for us at Dominion, when we reflect on the case and its outcome, we think about our first and foremost goal: accountability.

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On Tuesday, when we proudly walked into the Delaware Superior Court, we were going to trial. We knew our case was incredibly strong, and I still believe that at the end of the six-week trial, the jury most likely would have agreed.

We had reviewed more than a million internal Fox documents and deposed dozens of people, and Fox’s legal team had reviewed more than a million of ours. Then, in a summary judgment ruling on March 31, the court allowed the case to proceed and dismantled many of Fox’s legal defenses, ruling its claims about Dominion were clearly false and it could not seek refuge in arguments about the lies’ newsworthiness.

At trial, we weren’t expecting any more shocking revelations — we frankly didn’t need any more. From the earliest days of discovery, we knew our employees, our customers and the American public needed to see what we had found, and that is exactly what we presented in our pretrial filings and exhibits.

With that goal now met, we were focused on our obligations to our people — many of whom were set to testify, when they would recount trauma caused by the threats, violence and hate surfaced by lies about Dominion. I’d already seen some of them suffer emotionally during their depositions, and I worried deeply that a trial and associated media attention would cause only more lasting pain.

The settlement we negotiated accomplished two critical goals: allowing our employees and customers to move forward, and hitting Fox where it hurt most — its bank account.

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What was missing was an apology, so I myself drafted one for it that I thought would be appropriate to include. When I read it to my business partner, he asked what I thought about mandating Fox issue an apology that would be forced, insincere and limited. At that moment, I threw my draft in the garbage.

An hour later, when the Fox board approved the wire payment for $787.5 million — one of the largest known defamation settlements in history — Fox acknowledged what we needed it to acknowledge: spreading false claims comes with a huge price tag.

Even so, nothing can ever fully compensate for what happened. The stain on my company’s reputation and our employees’ and customers’ emotional scars can only fade. They won’t ever vanish.

If we could, we would trade it all in a heartbeat to go back in time to get our reputation back. But I take solace in the fact that the public has seen the enormous mountain of evidence proving what Fox did, and Fox paid dearly for it.

Our settlement with Fox is just one win on a long road. We have six more defamation cases pending: against Mike Lindell and his company, MyPillow; Rudy Giuliani; Sidney Powell; Patrick Byrne; One America News Network; and Newsmax. We will not stop until we hold all parties to full account.

By the way, it’s never too late for an apology. And if one day it comes of Fox’s own volition, we will know it was real.“

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