The settlement in the Dominion-Fox case is a moment of reckoning for Fox News.
Yes, Rupert Murdoch, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and others were spared testifying under oath. But the voluminous, shocking revelations from the case showed a great deal about Fox and how its business model interacts with the Republican Party — as well as with a political tradition on the right that goes back decades.
What may not be so obvious following the revelations in the Dominion suit is that many people at Fox are often engaged with a set of deeper forces at play — and these forces most likely helped trigger the case in the first place.
Fox has both promulgated and become subsumed by an alternative political tradition — perhaps most notoriously embodied by the John Birch Society in the 1960s — in which the far right, over decades, has challenged mainstream conservatism on core issues like isolationism, racism, the value of experts and expertise, violent rhetoric and conspiracism.
The Republican Party and the American right’s ability to police extremists was never particularly robust, but whatever guardrails they provided have become diminished through the years. Fox helped break the American right.
The question now is whether the money Fox is paying Dominion and Fox’s courthouse statement recognizing that the court had found “certain claims about Dominion” aired on its programming “to be false” will act as a constraint on some of these forces. With the revelations from this case, the guardrails may have been at least partly repaired. But they are still incredibly wobbly.