On Wednesday, the defamation lawsuit of Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News ended abruptly just moments before the trial was to begin when the two sides reached a settlement. All that Fox News had to do in the wake of the settlement were two things: Issue a one paragraph statement that includes a classic non-apology apology—“We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false”—and give a whopping $787 million payout to Dominion on an unspecified payment schedule.
That payment might seem to be a significant slap on the wrist, only Fox is out to make others pay for its mistakes. As Media Matters explains, Fox has informed cable and satellite television providers that it intends to sharply increase subscription fees, which are paid by everyone who uses the service, not just those who watch Fox News.
And that’s not where this ends, because Fox News wants everyone in the nation to chip in and help pay for their lies.
Reaching a settlement with Dominion saved Fox News from the embarrassment of Rupert Murdoch having to take the stand to admit that he knew his programs were spreading lies about election fraud. It also means that Tucker Carlson doesn’t get grilled over texts expressing his hatred for Trump. The settlement doesn’t even require that Fox deliver any kind of on-screen apology to its viewers, or the nation, for their role in promoting Trump’s “big lie.”
And that statement—the one that boils down to “we’re not saying we lied, just that the court found some things we said to be false”—is right up there with a serial racist who steps on stage to declare that he’s sorry if someone found his words offensive. It is not an apology. It’s not even an admission of guilt.
According to the Media Matters report, not one hair on the pale heads of Fox News viewers has been disturbed by any of the broadcaster’s dealings with Dominion. As revealed by one of their PR emails:
Fox News Channel’s viewership has not been impacted by the Dominion case, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. I have been eyeballing Fox’s daily ratings ever since Dominion started to release embarrassing texts and emails from the network’s biggest stars, and the ratings have not wobbled one bit.
With their viewership intact and the Dominion case in the rearview, Fox is going to cable and satellite providers not so much hat in hand as hammer at the ready, demanding a stiff increase in subscription fees—one that exceeds past industry levels. In an ongoing round of negotiations, Fox is demanding that they get more than $3 per subscriber from providers. That’s $3 not just for every person who tunes in to watch Carlson rant, but everyone on the service, whether they watch a minute of Fox News or not.
These subscription fees are exactly why Fox has been able to keep raking in cash even as name-brand advertisers have fled shows like Carlson’s nightly conspiracy fest. In fact, as reported at MSNB, Fox doesn’t really need advertisers as long as it can tap the bank accounts of everyone who watches television on cable or satellite.
The dirty secret about Fox News is that it is one of the only commercial TV channels that doesn’t need a single advertisement to be profitable, if not the only one. In fact, Fox could have zero dollars in ad revenue and still have at least a 35% profit margin. This is the result of carriage fees and the guaranteed revenue they provide Fox.
In the next year, 70% of Fox News’ contracts with providers are up for renegotiation, and they’re taking this opportunity to press for increases that will dwarf the Dominion settlement.
But wait! That’s not the only way Fox News is trying to make the settlement meaningless. Everyone will get the chance to chip in to help pay Carlson’s salary and for Rupert’s latest jet because, as The Lever reports, Fox is planning to write the whole thing off on its taxes.
… federal law allows taxpayers to write off many legal costs, providing that they are “ordinary and necessary” business expenses. The IRS has repeatedly affirmed that for major corporations, paying out settlements is just part of the cost of doing business.
This means that Fox could turn their settlement with Dominion into as much as a $213 million tax break.
No apology. No admission of guilt. Bills covered by people who don’t watch Fox. Massive tax break.
Yeah. That’ll teach ‘em. Fox News will never do that again.