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Senate Republicans who backed Trump’s election fraud claims say Fox News settling Dominion case leaves things ‘a little murky’

Fox Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch; former US President Donald TrumpFox Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch; former US President Donald Trump

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  • Fox News settled Dominion’s defamation suit about election conspiracy theories for $788 million.
  • Several Senate Republicans predicted the settlement wouldn’t change much at Fox or in journalism.
  • “A bad settlement is a lot better than going to court,” one Trump backer told Insider.

Several Senate Republicans who rallied to Trump’s side when he baselessly claimed the 2020 election was stolen from him said Fox paying nearly $800 million to avoid explaining its corresponding coverage was a straight-up business decision, and unlikely to hurt the functioning of a free press.

“I don’t know whether this has what I’d call ‘landmark qualities’ to it,” Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana said of the conservative news outlet’s blockbuster defamation suit settlement with Dominion Voting Systems. Bruan initially planned to reject the 2020 election results but switched sides after MAGA supporters swarmed the US Capitol in January 2021,

Braun told Insider that the price tag, though steep, probably wouldn’t have an “earthshaking impact on Fox.” The media giant has dodged potentially ruinous scandals for decades

“I think that it leaves a few things a little murky,” Braun said while walking through the Senate subway. He added that other news companies should take note because “if you are taking a certain point of view, you better make sure you got all your facts and ducks in a row.”

Three GOP senators who voted to overturn the 2020 election results, Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, danced around the specifics of the case but weighed in on aspects they felt most comfortable with. 

Hawley, a Yale Law School graduate who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Insider he didn’t know enough about Fox’s arguments to offer any kind of expert opinion. 

“I will leave Fox’s legal strategy to Fox,” he said, stressing that he didn’t have any inside information or “anything to compare it to.” 

Hawley loosened up a bit when asked if this was an example of lawyers wreaking havoc on freedom of speech. 

“Lawyers are always running amok. I mean, that’s what we do for a living. Especially plaintiff’s attorneys,” he said with a laugh. 

Cruz, a Harvard Law School graduate who also serves on Judiciary, said it made sense for Fox to bail out before things got any worse. 

“The trial was likely to be pretty ugly,” Cruz told Insider. “And I understand Fox making the decision not to go through a trial where there’s lots of testimony that’s harmful to the station.” 

Fox took a beating leading up to the trial as private messages from founder Rupert Murdoch and talk show hosts like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity leaked out, showing Fox bigwigs were more interested in appeasing their Trump-obsessed audience than factual reporting.  

“I get that it’s salacious. And everybody kind of enjoys a chance to see private texts back and forth, particularly of famous people,” Cruz said of the media frenzy surrounding the internal communications. 

But he said he’s fairly certain no rational being would invite that level of scrutiny. 

“I think a lot of people say things in private to their friends that they don’t particularly want broadcast to the world,” Cruz said. “I would suggest you probably don’t want your texts made public. I certainly don’t want mine.”

Tuberville held his tongue when asked about news-gathering practices and legal precedents. But said he fully understood wanting to escape a public drubbing. 

“I’ve been in a couple of lawsuits before. And a bad settlement is a lot better than going to court,” Tuberville said with a chuckle. 

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who voted to impeach Trump following the January 6, 2021 attack on Congress, offered the most pointed analysis of Fox’s legal challenges.   

“It’s no problem — if you don’t lie,” Romney told Insider between votes.

Read the original article on Business Insider