That’s All There Is

So FOX and Dominion came to an agreement, and the trial ended after a day of delay and a morning of jury selection and before any opening statements had been made. Months of documents showing the two-faced nature of FOX performers later, there is no showdown of truth versus lies in the courtroom.

Lots of people were disappointed with the news and I don’t understand why. This was always about money because it was a civil case. No one was going to jail over these lies. And now Dominion has walked away with a big check after exposing FOX’s hypocrisy.

The biggest question about the entire case is why it took FOX so long to settle. Think back to all of the things that came out during discovery:  FOX performers knew they were lying, some of them hate TFG, etc. None of that was good for FOX, regardless of how little its own audience cares about its constant stream of lies.

Now maybe a trial would have given us the dramatic moment—“YOU WANT THE TRUTH? YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”—but most likely it would not have. Most, if not all, of the sensational evidence had already been released, and a trial would have been a retread of that, consuming too much airtime while more pressing threats to our democracy went on unnoticed.

It’s also important to note that the extremists who lead the right in this country also lost their bid to attack a SCOTUS ruling they really hate:  New York Times Company v. Sullivan. They were hoping a FOX victory would weaken the malice standard set by Sullivan. They were disappointed—and that’s a victory for the rest of us.

I think that the widespread disappointment is that a lot of people expected Dominion to hate FOX as much as the rest of us, and to want to put FOX through a dramatic trial where we could feel moments of collective triumph as the prosecution hammered FOX.

The reality is that the case isn’t a TV drama. Dominion is a corporation. It’s not interested in spending months feeding the national psyche. It’s got a bunch of other entities to sue, and this was an efficient victory which saved them a bunch of money by ending this litigation.

Corporations may be people, but they’re not our saviors.

People are also disappointed that FOX didn’t make a straightforward admission that it had lied, so that its audience would know that what they were seeing and hearing were lies. Here’s the thing:  the FOX audience doesn’t care. As Jared Holt put it:

Today, it is in some cases enough to simply pretend to be a source of authority on whatever topic one may choose, whether it is COVID-19 science or foreign policy. Audiences crave narrative in a sea of data points and enjoy suspending their disbelief if doing so will get them the stories they crave, especially when that authoritative voice can entertain them.

The best fallout from Tuesday would be for people in positions of power and for media organizations to stop treating FOX as a news network. If another news outlet reports on something FOX does, then it should make very clear that FOX on-air talent freely lies about everything and that there is no real reason to cover it because lies aren’t news.

The best thing that could happen is that non-extremist politicians stop going on FOX. And Biden should lay down the law with the members of his administration and Democratic members of Congress:  NO CAPES EVER. I mean:  NO MORE FOX APPEARANCES. No one is changing FOX viewers’ minds with repartee and clever remarks (I’m looking at you, Pete Buttigieg). And no FOX talent should have a question taken by Biden or anyone else who is a Democrat ever again. Let them all rot in silence.

I’ll end with this Leiber/Stoller classic: