Watch: Jake Tapper cannot control his laughter when mentioning Fox News’ 'highest journalistic standards'
Reporters were getting ready to spend weeks covering the trial for Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News when, on Tuesday, April 18, they learned that there wouldn't be a trial. Fox News and Dominion had reached a settlement, with Fox agreeing to pay Dominion $787.5 million — a record amount for a defamation case.
Defamation, under the U.S. Supreme Court's 1964 ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan, is extremely difficult to prove. But Dominion's attorneys went to court with a mountain of damning evidence, including e-mails and text messages showing that Fox News hosts didn't believe the false claims about the company that they were promoting on the air.
Attorney Sidney Powell and other allies of former President Donald Trump falsely claimed that Dominion's voting equipment was used to help President Joe Biden steal the 2020 election from Trump — a totally debunked claim that, according to Dominion, Fox hosts like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity knew to be false.
In an official statement, Fox News said, "We are pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute with Dominion Voting Systems. We acknowledge the court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. This settlement reflects Fox's continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards. We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial, allows the country to move forward."
CNN's Jake Tapper, reporting on the settlement and Fox News' statement, struggled to maintain his composure when quoting the "highest journalistic standards" part.
"Fox (was) trying to put a positive face on what can only be interpreted as one of the ugliest and most embarrassing moments in the history of journalism," Tapper told viewers. "Fox issued a statement…. I'm sorry, this is going to be difficult to say with a straight face." And he broke out in laugher when he mentioned the right-wing cable news outlet's references to "highest journalistic standards."
Tapper then brought on two of CNN's legal analysts: attorney Laura Coates and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig. Coates argued that Fox News wouldn't have agreed to pay Dominion $787.5 million if its lawyers didn't believe that Dominion had a strong case.
Coates commented, "Look, as my father would say, that's not chump change. You're not going to go ahead and pay that amount of money because you believe that you were ultimately truthful and that you were going to prevail. This is a huge amount of money."
Honig pointed out that although Fox News' statement on the settlement was carefully worded, they were nonetheless admitting that they promoted lies on the air.
Honig told Tapper and Coates, "Translated, it means: We got caught lying by the judge. I think that's why we are seeing this absolutely jaw-dropping number. Let's be clear: This is an unequivocal rebuke of Fox News, of their reporting, of their, quote-unquote 'journalism.'"
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