CNN anchor Jake Tapper couldn’t help but laugh on Tuesday over Fox News’ spin about its “journalistic standards” after the conservative cable giant suddenly settled with Dominion Voting Systems just hours into a blockbuster defamation trial.
During the first day of an expected six-week trial over whether Fox News committed “actual malice” by airing voter fraud lies about Dominion after the 2020 election, the network agreed to a hefty settlement of $787.5 million. The voting software firm was originally seeking $1.6 billion in damages.
While Dominion’s legal team noted that “lies have consequences” and the company’s CEO added that Fox “admitted to telling lies about Dominion that caused enormous damage,” the network attempted to place a positive spin on the record-setting settlement.
“We are pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute with Dominion Voting Systems. We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false,” the network stated. “This settlement reflects FOX’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards. We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial, allows the country to move forward.”
That statement was just a bit too much for Tapper, who struggled to compose himself while reading it on air.
“Fox putting a positive face on what can only be interpreted as one of the ugliest and most embarrassing moments in the history of journalism,” he said on Tuesday afternoon. Once he began reading the network’s remarks, he immediately chuckled over Fox’s description of the defamation lawsuit over election lies as a “dispute.” Attempting to continue, he apologized to CNN viewers for his inability to stop laughing.
“I’m sorry. This is going to be difficult to say with a straight face,” the veteran anchor declared before reading aloud the portion of the statement in which Fox lauds its “continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.”
While Tapper was able to get through the entire statement, it took a few more pauses and guffaws before he saw it to its completion.
Shortly after the settlement was reached, CNN reported that part of the terms of the settlement was that Fox News will not have to acknowledge on air that it promoted lies about Dominion during the 2020 election.