TODAY Show (AU), April 19
00:00:00:12 – 00:00:20:12
Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News has this morning agreed to pay Dominion voting systems more than 1 billion AUD. In a last minute resolution of their defamation case. Ken Turkel, the US attorney who represented Sarah Palin against The New York Times joins us now in Florida. Ken, thanks so much for your time. Now, this would have to be one of the biggest payouts in history.
00:00:22:05 – 00:00:43:01
I was checking notes just to sort of refresh my memory on the bigger payouts in these types of cases. What came to mind immediately was the case referred to as the pink slime case, which was against ABC by a meat producer, Beef Products Inc, coincidentally enough, Beef Products was represented by Dan Webb, who defended Fox in this case.
00:00:43:23 – 00:01:16:07
When that payout was disclosed, that settlement was disclosed that over $177 million. That wasn’t the full disclosure that showed up in Disney’s public filings. Disney owning ABC. So that one came to mind as far as settlements. We had the Hulk Hogan case that I tried back in 2016. That verdict was $140 million. So when you look at settlements, I can’t think of anything that scratches the surface of $787.5 million other than perhaps the pink slime case, which we know is over $177 million.
00:01:16:18 – 00:01:21:20
But that’s all we know. So I’d have to say, as far as my base of knowledge, that’s the biggest one I’ve heard of.
00:01:21:24 – 00:01:36:19
It is such it’s an eye watering amount of money. I mean, you’ve been in these kinds of settlements before. Take us through that backroom process. How would these two parties have reached that number and why do you think Dominion settled? I mean, they had an opportunity here to to take Fox to task, to question their presenters, but they opted not to.
00:01:38:04 – 00:02:00:02
That jury trial is always a risky thing. Yeah, I know. I’ve sat in a room with people expecting us just to produce, you know, an eight or nine figure verdict. And it’s just not easy. It’s hard. There’s uncertainty. A lot of things can happen. At the end of the day, if the goal is recovering money, then what you’re going to look at when you’re settling is, you know, what is the probability of the damages case.
00:02:00:02 – 00:02:31:06
And I’ve done a lot of work on this particular case. I know the lawyers involved, they were they were aggregating their business damages from lost profits to loss destruction of business damages would be a category that they had, they had expert witnesses. Those experts were going to take the money, monetize those numbers as a forensic accounting function. And that’s what they could put on, as we say in trial practice, the board, that’s what they could board to a jury on a white board or some kind of, you know, a screen to run on.
00:02:31:17 – 00:02:51:00
So that’s serious money with very good lawyers behind it. I’m sure their experts were very good. So when you ask how do they get to that number, it’s going to be a by-product of balancing the risk of losing with, you know, the number that gets you to where you’re comfortable. Your clients comfortable and all that. Don’t forget, there’s some non-monetary conditions here.
00:02:51:06 – 00:03:01:14
One of which I’m just getting my hands around the settlement is Fox admitting it lied. Which defamation cases we are often looking for that retraction, the apology or the acknowledgment.
00:03:01:20 – 00:03:14:21
Yeah, well, that’s the thing. I mean, they did have an opportunity here to really embarrass Fox. I mean, we’ve seen that statement, as you touched on their release by Fox, saying that they do accept there were false claims. Do you think this will threaten their credibility going forward?
00:03:15:02 – 00:03:55:04
It’s an interesting question in today’s News World, because you and I had a discussion on another show recently where we talked about what is news, what is news, entertainment, right. Where does that line cross and where does this ultimately take us in that that paradigm, right? Instead well, I think it hurts your credibility. I think their credibility got hurt as this case was reported on, as there were numerous articles in shows discussing the evidence in it, where you had these acknowledgments, which we don’t often have in these cases: emails, text message, interoffice chat rooms like Slack, acknowledging their apprehension about the falsity of what they kept publishing or what the guests that they were
00:03:55:05 – 00:04:27:06
bringing on were publishing. So I think they take a hit there already. I think an interesting point I don’t see anybody discussing as this shortly before the settlement is reached, Judge Davis finalizes his appointment of a special master to look into the Abby Grossberg tapes that were disclosed just last week on the eve of trial. I don’t know what’s on those tapes, what is alleged to be on those tapes or comments from other personnel, including Giuliani, about this entire attack on Dominion and the sanctity of the election.
00:04:28:01 – 00:04:46:24
There may have been something there that put this over the edge as it related to settlement. It’s certainly a consideration. We’ll see how it fits out over the next couple of days. Yeah, I mean, that that coincidence is just a little too much for me, right? He is the master in settlement. There may be something even worse.
00:04:47:05 – 00:04:52:00
That’s right. And we’ll see how that plays out. Thanks for joining us. You seem like quite a dude there in your high rise. with those specks.
00:04:52:17 – 00:04:57:21
They could be thing. Nice to see you all. Thank you.