Fox Corporation’s Chief Legal Officer to Depart After Dominion Settlement
Major Shake-up at Fox Corporation Following $787.5 Million Dominion Settlement
Fox Corporation’s chief legal officer, Viet Dinh, is set to depart at the end of the year, marking a significant shake-up at the company. This comes after Fox paid a landmark $787.5 million settlement to Dominion Voting Systems in April.
Despite his departure, Mr. Dinh will continue to advise the company, according to an announcement made by Fox on Friday. Mr. Dinh, who served as an official in the George W. Bush White House and gained considerable power within Fox, was criticized for providing flawed advice during the Dominion suit.
The Dominion lawsuit exposed a pattern of deceptive coverage by Fox News following the 2020 presidential election. Mr. Dinh believed that Fox was legally secure and could potentially take the case to the Supreme Court, confident in the company’s First Amendment rights.
Fox has not yet named Mr. Dinh’s successor. “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,” said Lachlan Murdoch, the CEO, in a statement.
Uncertain Future for Fox amidst Ongoing Lawsuits
Mr. Dinh’s departure raises concerns about Fox’s handling of the lawsuits it faces for propagating false claims about election fraud. Smartmatic, another elections technology company, has filed a $2.7 billion lawsuit against Fox. Additionally, Ray Epps, who was at the center of a conspiracy theory surrounding the attack on the U.S. Capitol, filed a defamation suit against Fox last month.
The company also faces two shareholder lawsuits related to its coverage and handling of the lawsuits. The Dominion lawsuit has caused significant turmoil for Fox and the Murdoch family, which controls the company. This is one of the biggest challenges since the British newspaper division hacking scandal over a decade ago.
Emails and text messages released during the discovery process in the Dominion case revealed skepticism among Fox executives, including founder Rupert Murdoch and news network hosts, towards former President Donald J. Trump’s claims of voter fraud. Despite this, Fox News continued to provide a platform to individuals making such claims.
Tucker Carlson, the network’s most-watched prime-time host, had his program canceled in April after private messages showed him being critical of Mr. Trump. A racist sentiment in one of the texts led to an internal investigation by the Fox board and contributed to Mr. Carlson’s departure.
Mr. Dinh’s Departure and Fox’s Future Lawsuits
The departure of Mr. Dinh, who has been close to the Murdoch family for years and served on the company’s board of directors, presents uncertainty regarding the remaining lawsuits against Fox. The law firm Kirkland Ellis, where Mr. Dinh was a partner before joining Fox, continues to handle a significant portion of the caseload related to the Smartmatic suit.
During the Dominion suit, Mr. Dinh was deposed and expressed skepticism towards Mr. Trump’s false claims. His exit also has implications for Fox News, which recently rearranged its prime-time lineup. Jesse Watters replaced Tucker Carlson at 8 p.m., Sean Hannity remains the 9 p.m. host, and Greg Gutfeld moved to 10 p.m. from 11 p.m.
While at Fox, Mr. Dinh was considered one of the most influential lawyers in America. Although he did not oversee daily programming at Fox News, he had significant influence over its content.
As a Vietnamese refugee who arrived in the U.S. at a young age, Mr. Dinh worked various jobs to support his family. He attended Harvard and Harvard Law School. At times, he expressed pride in Fox’s contrarian view of the former president, despite facing criticism from Mr. Trump.
High-Dollar Compensation Package and Transition at Fox News
As Mr. Dinh departs, he will receive a compensation package of $23 million, according to federal government documents. Fox News is currently going through a transition period, with its prime-time lineup reshuffled for the first time since 2017.
Despite not being directly responsible for daily programming at Fox News, Mr. Dinh had significant oversight over its content. Having experienced various jobs while growing up, he maintained a watchful eye over the network’s contrarian approach to the former president.