Fox Corp., Venezuelan Businessman Majed Khalil Reach Settlement in Election Defamation Case
As Fox Corp. prepares to fight a looming and potentially high-profile defamation case, it has agreed to settle another.
The company, which owns Fox News, has reached a confidential agreement to resolve a defamation case levied against it by Venezuelan businessman Majed Khalil that alleged Fox News and former host Lou Dobbs had harmed Khalil’s reputation by stating he and three others developed programs and machines to rig the 2020 presidential election.
“This matter has been resolved amicably by both sides. We have no further comment,” Fox News said in a statement after being contacted by Variety. A letter filed Saturday to Judge Louis L. Stanton of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York informed authorities that the parties in the case “have reached a confidential agreement to resolve this matter. The parties anticipate filing a joint stipulation of dismissal with prejudice early next week.”
In the case, initially filed in 2021, Khalil alleged that comments made by Dobbs in 2020 on Fox Business Network and on Twitter that suggested he was “COO of the election project” in which officials from Venezuela conspired with voting-technology firms Smartmatic Inc. and Dominion Voting Systems tried to make sure President Donald Trump lost, harmed his reputation. Dobbs also said Khalil was “a liaison with Hezbollah” who “executed an electoral 9-11″ and a “cyber Pearl Harbor” against the United States, according to his initial complaint.
The 2020 presidential election was not rigged, according to multiple officials, but Fox’s Dobbs amplified statements made by Trump aides like Sidney Powell, an attorney for the former president who saw her media profile widen after she rattled off multiple unproven conspiracy theories to reporters covering the race for the White House. President Joe Biden won the election.
A judge ruled in February of last year that Khalil’s case had standing, despite Fox’s efforts to have the case dismissed.
Dobbs’ long-running Fox Business program was cancelled in 2021, after he had been named in the Smartmatic suit.
The settlement comes as Fox Corp. and Fox News are about to face a jury in a trial slated to begin next week in Wilmington, Delaware. In that case, Dominion Voting is seeking $1.6 billion in damages related to what it alleges was Fox News’ repeated circulation of claims that it played a role in swaying the 2020 election for Biden.
At issue in the case are damages Dominion alleges it is owed after Fox News aired false claims about its actions and influence on the 2020 election. It is the second legal proceeding made against Fox News for its coverage of the aftermath of the 2020 race for the White House. Smartmatic, a separate voting technology company, has filed a massive $2.7 billion suit against Fox News. Both suits allege that Fox News falsely claimed the companies had rigged the election, repeated items about the matter and then refused to engage in efforts to set the record straight.
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