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Fox News has lost another top executive as the network continues to try and rebound from an eye-watering $787 million defamation settlement with Dominion Voting Systems.
According to The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, the network’s top legal officer, Viet Dinh, will be departing the company by the end of this year. Mediaite noted that Dinh was a “close confidante” of Fox News CEO Lachlan Murdoch and was a godfather to one of his sons.
“His strong position at the company waned following the settlement, some people familiar with the matter said,” the Journal reported.
The New York Times reported that instead of settling the Dominion lawsuit early, Dinh stuck with an “overly rosy scenario” that relied on free speech protections. Dominion sued Fox after multiple guests claimed the company helped rig the 2020 election outcome against then-President Donald Trump.
“He insisted that Fox was on firm legal footing and could take the case, if need be, all the way to the Supreme Court, where he believed the company would prevail on First Amendment grounds,” the Times reported.
According to reports, Dinh chose not to settle the case until just hours before it was to go to trial, which allowed Dominion’s legal team to obtain copies of internal communications during the discovery phase. They indicated that management at Fox News was skeptical of the election rigging claims.
“Fox’s legal case was severely hindered when the judge ruled that it wasn’t entitled to use a First Amendment defense,” the Journal reported.
Mediaite reported that unnamed sources have said Dinh’s departure is directly related to the massive settlement.
“He screwed up and mishandled all the legal and passed [Dominion] $787 million when they should’ve settled this right away,” a “source close to the Murdoch Camp” said. “He hung in there for a while only because he’s Lachlan’s son’s godfather.”
Another person allegedly told the outlet: “He cost the company $800 million in the lawsuit with another pending. It’s a no brainer: you don’t settle for $800 mill and jeopardize the prized asset of Fox News without a head rolling.”
In a statement, Murdoch said: “We appreciate Viet’s many contributions and service to Fox as both a board member of 21st Century Fox and in his role over the last five years as a valued member of Fox’s leadership team.”
Fox still faces another $2.7 billion lawsuit filed by electronic voting machine company Smartmatic, as well as two shareholder lawsuits related to the Dominion settlement.
“It is also facing a defamation suit filed last month by Ray Epps, a central figure in the Capitol incursion event of Jan. 6, 2021,” the Western Journal reported.
Dinh worked in the George W. Bush administration and was a chief author of The Patriot Act as an assistant attorney general.
Another major casualty of the Dominion case, reportedly, was Fox’s decision to take Tucker Carlson, its top-rated host, off the air in late April.
A new report revealed that Lachlan Murdoch and Suzanne Scott, chief executive of Fox News Media, decided to fire Carlson.
“The power that Mr. Carlson, 53, wielded outside Fox News could not insulate him from a growing list of troubles inside the network related to his conduct on and off the air, some of which had been grating on Mr. Murdoch and his father, Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox Corporation, who co-founded the network in 1996, according to the two people with knowledge of the company’s decision,” it was reported.
“The host, a polarizing and unpopular figure at the network outside of his staff, was exposed as part of a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems as a bully who denigrated colleagues and sources, often in profane and sexist language, and called for the firing of Fox journalists whose coverage he disliked. He has also drawn condemnation from the right and left for his role in fostering a revisionist account of the assault on the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021,” the outlet added.