Fox Corporation’s chief legal officer, Viet Dinh, will leave at the end of the year, in a shakeup for the company following the historic $787.5 million settlement it paid to Dominion Voting Systems in April.
Fox said in a statement on Friday that Dinh, a former White House official under George W. Bush who gained significant power within Fox, would advise the company after his exit.
Mr. Dinh gave what some inside the company considered flawed advice during the Dominion lawsuit, which exposed a pattern of deceptive coverage by Fox News after the 2020 presidential election. He insisted that Fox was on a firm legal footing and could bring the case, if necessary, along. way to the Supreme Court, where he believes the company will prevail on First Amendment grounds.
Fox did not name his successor.
“We appreciate Veet’s many contributions and services to Fox as a member of the 21st Century Fox Board of Directors and in his role over the past five years as a valued member of the Fox leadership team,” CEO Lachlan Murdoch said in a written statement. Announcing the move.
Mr. Dinh’s departure raises questions about how Fox will handle the major lawsuits it still faces for broadcasting false allegations about election fraud on a large scale after the 2020 election. Another election technology company, Smartmatic, sued Fox for $2.7 billion. Ray Epps, the man at the center of a widespread conspiracy theory about the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox last month.
The company also faces two shareholder lawsuits related to its coverage and handling of lawsuits.
The Dominion lawsuit destabilized Fox and the family that controlled it, the Murdoch family. The fallout is the most significant challenge the company has faced since allegations more than a decade ago that journalists working for its British newspapers division were hacking into celebrity voicemail accounts.
Emails and text messages released as part of the discovery process in the Dominion case revealed that Fox executives including Rupert Murdoch, the company’s founder, and hosts of its news network were deeply skeptical of former President Donald J. Trump’s claims that voter fraud was responsible for his loss in the election. The election. However, Fox News has continued to provide a platform for the many on-air personalities and guests who have made such claims.
In April, the network canceled its most-watched prime-time host, Tucker Carlson, whose private messages showed him to be much more critical of Mr. Trump than he was on his show.
One of the texts, containing racist sentiments, prompted the Fox board of directors to allow an internal investigation, which was one of several factors that contributed to Mr. Carlson’s impeachment. Lachlan Murdoch called the decision to fire Mr. Carlson a “business decision,” arguing that the host no longer deserved the trouble he created for the company, according to a person familiar with the internal discussions.
Mr. Dinh has been close to the Murdoch family for years and served on the company’s board of directors before being appointed chief legal officer in 2018. He is also the godfather of one of Lachlan Murdoch’s sons.
Mr. Dinh had a great deal of influence at Fox. But his handling of the Dominion lawsuit upset many inside the company, including Susan Scott, CEO of Fox News Media, who is known for her discretion but has made her colleagues known for her disapproval, according to two people who spoke to her.
How Mr. Dinh’s departure affects the remaining lawsuits against Fox is an open question. The law firm he was a partner with before joining Fox, Kirkland Ellis, went on to handle much of the cases from the Smartmatic lawsuit.
Mr. Dinh was impeached as part of the Dominion suit and has admitted he was “sceptical” about Mr. Trump’s false claims.
He is leaving with a high-dollar compensation package: $23 million, according to documents provided to the federal government.
Fox News is in a period of transition, having changed its prime-time lineup for the first time since 2017. Replacing Mr. Carlson is Jesse Watters at 8 p.m., Sean Hannity remains the host at nine, and Greg Gutfeld moved to 10 of 11.
While at Fox, Mr. Dinh was sometimes described as one of the most powerful lawyers in America. Although he did not run the daily programming at Fox News, he still monitored its content, maintaining an influential role on what appeared on the air.
A refugee from Vietnam who arrived at the age of ten he once told VietLife magazine He worked jobs that included “cleaning toilets, bussing tables, pumping gas, picking berries, and fixing cars.” To help his family make ends meet. He attended Harvard Law School and Harvard University.
At times he expressed pride in Fox’s contrarian view of the former president, which has sometimes led Mr. Trump to lash out at the network.
“There is no better historical record of excellent journalism at Fox News than seeing how the former president tweeted against Fox,” Mr. Dinh said.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”