Fox News has settled with Dominion over its election lies. But that’s far from the network’s only legal problems

Fox News still faces a deluge of litigation relating to its 2020 election lies from Smartmatic, former producer Abby Grossberg and its own shareholders.

Bevan Hurley
Wednesday 19 April 2023 17:02 BST
'Lies have consequences': Dominion announces settlement with Fox

Like the cat that had gotten away with the cream, Fox News declared it was “pleased” to have paid out $787.5m to Dominion Voting Systems and avoided a grueling six-week courtroom examination of its shoddy journalistic practices.

Yet the measured celebration in Fox’s statement after paying out the second largest defamation award in US history may be short-lived.

Dominion’s private equity majority owners were always considered likely by to opt for the guarantee of a payout by media observers, rather than leave it to the whims of 12 members of a Delaware jury.

However, the thousands of emails, texts and private documents unearthed during Dominion’s discovery process have pried open Fox’s internal decision-making process, and the willingness of its anchors and executives to lie for the sake of ratings, like never before.

Other plaintiffs with defamation cases against Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing network have been paying close attention.


Voting software company Smartmatic is suing Fox News for $2.7bn for spreading lies that it manipulated its machines during the 2020 election.

The case largely mirrors Dominion’s claims: that Fox News knowingly platformed irreputable members of Donald Trump’s entourage so they could falsely accuse the company of rigging the 2020 presidential election in favour of Joe Biden.

Fox News allowed unfounded claims that Smartmatic was “created in Venezuela at the direction of Hugo Chávez” and had ties to the Clintons and George Soros to go unchallenged.

In reality, the company was created by Venezuelan expats in Florida in 2000 after the “hanging chad” debacle that led to George W Bush’s presidential victory that year.

Recording captures Giuliani admitting he doesn’t know about Dominion voting machines

The 300-page complaint filed in the New York Supreme Court in February 2021 also names Fox hosts Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro, and Lou Dobbs, along with Mr Trump’s lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

Ms Powell was dropped from the case last year, after the New York court deemed it did not have jurisdiction over the Texas-based attorney. Smartmatic is pursuing a federal lawsuit against her.

In February, an appeals court panel ruled the case could go forward in a 5-0 decision.

In a statement after the $787.5m Dominion settlement had been reached, Smartmatic attorney J Erik Connolly said the case had litigation exposed “some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign”.

“Smartmatic will expose the rest,” Mr Connolly said. “Smartmatic remains committed to clearing its name, recouping the significant damage done to the company, and holding Fox accountable for undermining democracy.”

Rupert Murdoch is still facing a deluge of litigation cases over Fox News’ 2020 election lies
Rupert Murdoch is still facing a deluge of litigation cases over Fox News’ 2020 election lies (Associated Press)

Like in Delaware, New York defamation law requires plaintiffs to prove a media outlet published false information with “actual malice”, which can be a high bar to clear.

Fox News has defended itself in court statements by saying that Smartmatic’s claims are “nothing more than a flagrant attempt to deter our journalists from doing their jobs”. 

There has been no trial date set in the case.

Fox Corporation shareholders

On 11 April, investor Robert Schwarz filed a lawsuit against Fox Corporation alleging chairman Rupert Murdoch, his son Lachlan, and other board members had damaged the network’s credibility and brought about a deluge of litigation for failing to stop it from spreading election lies.

“FOX knew – from the Board on down – that Fox News was reporting false and dangerous misinformation about the 2020 Presidential election, but FOX was more concerned about short-term ratings and market share than the long-term damages of its failure to tell the truth,” he said in the lawsuit filed in the Delaware Chancery Court, according to Reuters.

'Lies have consequences': Dominion announces settlement with Fox

The board’s failure to act on “red flags” raised by spreading defamatory statements about Dominion and Smartmatic was a dereliction of corporate governance, the suit claims.

This week, Reuters reported that Fox Corporation shareholders were demanding internal company records to determine whether the board had maintained proper oversight of claims made on the network about the 2020 election.

The lawsuit names both Murdochs, and fellow directors Chase Carey, Roland Hernandez and Jacques Nasser, as being potentially liable.

Abby Grossberg

Former Fox News producer Abby Grossberg filed two lawsuits in March alleging the network had coerced her into giving false testimony in the Dominion defamation case.

Ms Grossberg, who had worked as a senior producer on Tucker Carlson and Maria Bartiromo’s shows, claimed the network had tried to blame her for allowing the spread of election conspiracies in separate court filings in New York and Delaware.

She alleged this was part of a broader culture of misogyny and racism in the workplace, that “subjugates women based on vile sexist stereotypes, typecasts religious minorities and belittles their traditions, and demonstrates little to no regard for those suffering from mental illness”.

Abby Grossberg has filed two lawsuits alleging she was coerced to take the blame for Fox’s election conspiracies
Abby Grossberg has filed two lawsuits alleging she was coerced to take the blame for Fox’s election conspiracies (NBC News)

She further claimed that she was fired unlawfully days after filing the claims on 24 March.

Fox News later moved unsuccessfully to have the complaint sealed, arguing that it contains information protected by attorney-client privilege.

Fox News disputes her claims, and said at the time they were filed immediately after a critical performance review.


In a separate case in Australia, Lachlan Murdoch, the Fox Corporation chief executive, launched libel proceedings against the independent Australian news site Crikey in August 2022.

It relates to a June 2022 article in which Crikey described the Murdoch family as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the deadly January 6 riots.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Lachlan Murdoch alleges in a Federal Court filing that the article contained 14 defamatory statements claiming he had “illegally conspired with Donald Trump to incite an armed mob to march on the Capitol”. 

Crikey’s publisher Private Media has stated that it will rely on evidence produced in the Dominion defamation trial to show that the elder Murdoch son was “morally and ethically” culpable for the riots.

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