For Rupert Murdoch, $787.5 million is just the price of doing business

By | April 19, 2023

Jack Shafer writes:

If it seems fairly daft to congratulate Rupert Murdoch on settling the Dominion Voting Systems defamation case at a cost of $787.5 million, you probably need to be brought up to speed on how the tycoon excises malignancies when they threaten his core businesses.

Murdoch’s company paid $100 million to celebrities and crime victims in his tabloid phone-hacking scandal in Britain, according to the Washington Post. Another $50 million went one year to women at Fox News who alleged sexual harassment at the conservative network. In another case, $15 million went to a former host who complained about wage discrimination. A “seven-figure payment” went to the parents of Seth Rich, who sued Fox for trafficking a false conspiracy theory about his death. And in 2010, Fox dropped a mammoth $500 million to settle a supermarket-coupon trade secret lawsuit. In 2011, Murdoch completely shuttered his News of the World tabloid to limit exposure in the phone-hacking scandal.

A hundred million here, a hundred million there, might crimp your finances. But in the Murdoch universe, paying such settlements is just the cost of doing business Murdoch-style. The alternative to settling with Dominion for telling a series of lies about voting fraud would have been a painful and long courtroom drama. A stream of ugly would have been on the Fox image, day after day, as Dominion made its case. Even after the case concluded and went to appeals, the Fox brand would have been further stigmatized, and shame and disparagement would have been leveled at Murdoch, Fox executives and Fox hosts Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Maria Bartiromo, Laura Ingraham and Bret Baier, all of whom Dominion planned to put on the witness stand. Getting out from under all of that hurt for $787.5 million is a kind of bargain for a company with a market cap of $17.3 billion. Fox has $4.1 billion in cash and warrants on hand, says the New York Times. [Continue reading…]