There are, as F Scott Fitzgerald famously observed – and as Rupert Murdoch is now belatedly discovering, “no second acts in American lives”. Last week, just as the trial of the $1.6bn defamation action brought by Dominion against Fox News was about to start, a “settlement” was reached between the two parties. Fox, of which Murdoch is CEO, paid nearly $800m to stop the proceedings.
Given how highly Murdoch values his image as a swaggering media giant, it was probably money well spent. Otherwise he would have had to testify under oath and the world would see not the robust titan of popular legend but an elderly mogul who is physically frail and, more importantly, who could not stop his TV station pandering to Donald Trump for fear of alienating the audience that had turned Fox News into such a profitable cash cow.