Fox’s Dominion failure is much deeper than one of poor legal strategy. As the article notes, “the case would have been difficult for any lawyer. As the internal records showed, executives knew conspiracy theories about Dominion were false yet did not stop hosts and guests from airing them.” For Fox to solve that problem would require much more than getting rid of its top attorney — it would require serious, top-to-bottom changes in personnel and operations.
Notably, the Times article zeroes in on Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo, who launched Fox’s anti-Dominion coverage via an interview with pro-Trump election denier Sidney Powell. The Times reports that Fox’s lawyers did not conduct a legal review after the network received an initial complaint from Dominion, which might have uncovered an email from “one of Ms. Powell’s original sources on Dominion” who “intimated that her information had come from a combination of dreams and time travel.” The paper quotes a First Amendment lawyer saying that if he had found such an email in a client’s files, he would “physically wrest my client’s checkbook from them and settle before the police arrive.”
That all sounds quite dramatic — but the punchline is that Bartiromo is still on Fox’s payroll. Fox executives know that she promoted falsehoods initially sourced from someone who had claimed “the Wind tells me I’m a ghost, but I don’t believe it,” and have decided to keep her on the air for her three-hour Fox Business weekday show and her Sunday morning Fox News show.
Dinh is a close personal friend of Fox Corp. Chief Executive Lachlan Murdoch and was “seen internally as the company’s power center.” From 2001 to 2003, Dinh was the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy and played a critical role in advancing passage of the Patriot Act and other legal theories that backed the Bush administration’s War on Terror.
In 2020, The New York Times reported that Dinh and Lachlan Murodch hired former Trump White House official Raj Shah to lead an internal effort to undermine criticism of Fox News, focusing specifically on Media Matters and Sleeping Giants. (Shah left Fox in the immediate wake of the Dominion settlement.)
Quietly, Mr. Murdoch and his main deputy Viet Dinh, a former Bush administration official, have begun taking a more aggressive approach. Last summer, they hired Raj Shah, a former Trump White House official who led opposition research against Hillary Clinton at the Republican National Committee. And this year, I recently learned, Mr. Shah has begun to build a secret operation, hiring two former reporters for the conservative Washington Free Beacon, Elliott Schwartz and Alex Griswold. (Mr. Schwartz had also run Jeb Bush’s campaign “war room.”) Their job is to defend Fox from criticism from progressive outlets like Media Matters and Sleeping Giants on social media, protect advertising dollars and discredit critics, three people familiar with the work said. (The two former reporters have conspicuously omitted Fox from their Twitter bios.)
You can find more about the Fox / Dominion case here.