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Rupert’s Post-Tucker, Post-Dominion Legal Headache

Photo: PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
Eriq Gardner
April 24, 2023

Even with inflation, $787.5 million can buy a lot these days: a Caribbean island, Super Bowl tickets for 80,000 close friends, or even your way off the witness stand if you happen to be the head of a right-wing cable news network being sued over election conspiracies. But will Rupert Murdoch’s media company really be $787.5 million poorer after settling with Dominion? After inspecting the 8-K that Fox Corp. filed with the S.E.C., I suspect that Fox’s insurers may be picking up a good chunk of the tab.

Fox wouldn’t comment, of course, so I turned to the next best authority—Cameron Stracher, a savvy media law veteran who was formerly the general counsel at the National Enquirer’s parent company, which saw quite a few libel lawsuits in its heyday. Stracher, who now counsels the Daily Mail, among others, confirmed my hunch that Fox had an ulterior financial motivation to avoid making any kind of apology as part of the settlement. After all, most insurers explicitly carve out reimbursement when defamatory statements are published with actual malice. “Given that Fox did not admit that its actions were intentional—only that it recognized the judge’s finding that it made false statements, which could have been made negligently or inadvertently—I would think its insurers would have to cover the settlement,” Stracher told me.