Former Fox News Lawyer Blaming Everyone But Himself For Botching Dominion Suit To The Tune Of $787M

fox-news-logoFox announced back in August that Viet Dinh would be stepping down as its Chief Legal and Policy Officer at the end of the year and everyone wondered: what took them so long? The network navigated the troubled waters of Big Lie coverage with all the prudence of running the Titanic through Scylla and Charybdis at flank speed. Reportedly, Dinh watched the network continue to platform the looniest of loony conspiracy takes while shrugging and insisting that the Supreme Court would bail out the network if Dominion or any of the other entities getting defamed on the channel ever forced the issue.

Well, they forced the issue and this crackerjack legal strategy ended with Fox out $787.5 million… and counting.

Earlier this week, Dinh spoke at Harvard Law School and laid out his excuses for Fox’s legal woes and you’ll be shocked not at all to learn that he’s confident that everything was someone else’s fault.

“We knew we were right in the law,” Dinh said, but “the trial judge put us in a situation increasingly where it was very obvious that we were not able to win the trial, but we were very confident we would prevail on appeal.”

The lament of the Scooby-Doo villain: it woulda worked if it weren’t for those pesky judges.

This is, of course, complete bullshit. Drawn out litigation is costly and coughing up a pittance to squelch a low-risk, but high-impact case can make sense. Like when some media outlets threw some crumbs to the Covington Catholic kid even though those suits would eventually have gotten laughed out of court like his others did.

But note a few key differences between these cases. First, CNN didn’t give away anything in the same universe as $787.5M. Second, they settled for an undisclosed amount, which is what companies do if they think they have even the remotest leg to stand on. CNN wasn’t giving away a penny that could encourage future vexatious litigation. Meanwhile, Fox let the whole world know they settled for 60 cents on the dollar while facing other defamation suits arising out of the same conduct! If you “know you were right in the law,” you’re not entertaining this settlement.

He added: ”At some point, it became not just a matter of reversible error. It called into question the fundamental fairness and integrity of the Delaware civil justice system.”

Sure, buddy. Again, how much would it cost to appeal a result that was truly this bad? Maybe Fox is out $100M all in? That means someone over there was $687.5M sure that Dinh’s assessment was argle-bargle.

Dinh said the judge erred by giving Dominion overly broad access to Fox internal communications—a move he believes ensured a trial would result in several months of “utter pain” for the company and its employees. He called opting to settle a “business decision.”

That Fox personnel internally knew these statements made no sense formed the heart of the whole suit. How was it overbroad to dig into them? The only halfway decent claim that discovery was overbroad was that Rupert Murdoch’s testimony shouldn’t be relevant to a defamation case against his subsidiary and then it turned out everyone forgot Rupert Murdoch made himself a Fox News official.

Perhaps the better business decision would’ve been to consider that platforming defamatory claims would inevitably result in a deluge of embarrassing discovery revelations long before Sam Alito could ride in naked on horseback to carry the network to safety and taken action to mitigate the exposure at the time?

But, yeah, it’s all the judge’s fault.

Fox Legal Chief Rips Judge in Dominion Case, Says ‘Illogical’ Pre-Trial Rulings ‘Hamstrung’ Company [Corporate Counsel]

Earlier: Fox News Parts Ways With Lawyer After Coughing Up $787 Million And Counting

HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.


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