A Balkans wartime mediator who was hired at the last minute to negotiate the $787.5 million settlement between Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems told CNN that this had been one of the most difficult assignments he’s worked on.
“It was one of the more challenging cases because of the magnitude of the dispute and the visibility,” veteran mediator Jerry Roscoe told CNN. “I would not characterize any aspect of this mediation as easy.”
The CNN interview reveals new details behind the historic settlement, including that Roscoe’s hiring hours before the trial was set to begin, was the reason Judge Eric Davis delayed the proceedings by one day.
But it was not until 2 p.m. on Tuesday that Roscoe finalized the deal, with both parties signing paperwork at around 4 p.m. just moments before Davis returned to the courtroom.
The settlement is the largest publicly known settlement ever in a U.S. defamation case against a media outlet. Experts say it is a huge financial win for Dominion whose annual revenue was estimated at under $100 million last year.
As part of the settlement, Fox News admitted in a statement that the court proved “certain claims about Dominion to be false,” but the network was not required to issue redactions or offer an on-air apology for the false claims.
Some experts say that other defendants in pending Dominion defamation lawsuits, like MyPillow executive Mike Lindell, are now likely ”fearful" of consequences. But the settlement, which let Fox News hosts like Tucker Carlson avoid testifying, ultimately means that the network won’t be held responsible for telling viewers that the 2020 election was fraudulent, which some analysts say is a blow to democracy.
Dominion had originally asked for $1.6 billion in damages, saying Fox News tarnished its reputation by having hosts spew conspiracy theories and featuring guests who said the company was involved in an orchestrated effort to steal the 2020 election from former President Donald Trump.
Fox hosts, producers, and executives knew many of these claims were false but chose to air them anyway, according to internal communications obtained by Dominion before the trial.
Fox News argued that they were protected by the First Amendment and that any ruling against them would have a chilling effect on freedom of the press.