(NEW YORK) — Fox News settled the billion-dollar defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems to “buy peace,” a Fox attorney wrote in a new letter to the court on Wednesday amidst an effort to keep more of its internal messages under seal.
Dominion had sued Fox for $1.6 billion, accusing the network of knowingly pushing false conspiracy theories that the voting machine company rigged the 2020 presidential election in Joe Biden’s favor. In the settlement reached last month, Fox agreed to pay Dominion $787.5 million and acknowledged “the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false.”
“Fox agreed to settle this case to buy peace and bring an end to the media spectacle that the case had become,” Katharine Mowery, Fox’s attorney, wrote in the 10-page letter to Judge Eric Davis on Wednesday night.
The letter from Fox to the judge overseeing the now-settled case urged him to keep the redacted internal materials disclosed to Dominion during the case’s discovery process under seal — despite an effort by some media organizations to unseal them — saying that more public disclosures could “inflict significant harm.”
The redacted messages have come under renewed interest, in part, in the wake of Tucker Carlson’s dismissal from the network last week. The New York Times reported that a racist text uncovered during the discovery process may have contributed to Carlson’s firing, though the full contents of the text were not released to Dominion as part of the litigation.
The discovery process yielded thousands of emails, texts, and other private communications from some of Fox’s biggest stars and executives, some of which showed them privately bashing Trump and his election fraud claims while they continued to broadcast them on air.
“To unseal all of the requested records now, after Fox paid a hefty price for litigation peace, would not serve the public interest in the slightest,” the letter said.
Earlier this week, media outlets renewed their request to the judge for the materials to be unsealed, writing in their letter that “The fact that the parties have settled their claims does not moot the Media Challenges.”
Fox in its letter Wednesday said the media effort amounts to nothing more than an attempt to undermine a competitor. They said the case had already had a “chill” on the First Amendment, and that the materials that remain under seal include sensitive proprietary business and personal information.
“After all, if $787.5 million is not enough to buy peace, parties will certainly think twice before settling in the future,” the letter said.
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