2023年6月8日 星期四

For Some Fox Critics, Defamation Case Was a Split Decision 誹謗案重金和解 批評者認為太便宜福斯

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2023/06/09 第436期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
紐時周報精選 For Some Fox Critics, Defamation Case Was a Split Decision 誹謗案重金和解 批評者認為太便宜福斯
From Heavy Showers to Awash in Flowers 冬雨(跟接連的陣雨)帶來繁花似錦
For Some Fox Critics, Defamation Case Was a Split Decision 誹謗案重金和解 批評者認為太便宜福斯
文/Michael M. Grynbaum

誹謗案重金和解 批評者認為太便宜福斯

On the surface, Fox News got pummeled.


Rupert Murdoch, its founder, agreed to a settlement of $787.5 million, roughly two-thirds of the Fox Corp.'s net annual income. Fox News was embarrassed by revelations that its anchors privately despised former President Donald Trump. And Dominion Voting Systems, the election technology firm derided on Fox airwaves, declared victory Tuesday on the courthouse steps.


Yet for some Murdoch critics, the outcome of this landmark libel case fell short of something to celebrate.


"Rupert Wins Again," declared Politico press critic Jack Shafer, who noted Murdoch's long history of paying tens of millions of dollars to settle claims of phone hacking, workplace harassment and other ignominies.


"Country lost, democracy lost," First Amendment lawyer Martin Garbus wrote in an email, predicting that Fox hosts Tucker Carlson and Maria Bartiromo would be feted by conservatives as "heroes" who "stood up against the liberal world."


Others lamented what they perceived to be a lost opportunity for a legal reckoning for the misinformation that has poisoned many Americans' trust in the democratic process.


"Great win for democracy? I don't know about that," said MSNBC host Joy Reid, who told viewers that Fox News "saved their stars from having to take the witness stand and answer questions about all those embarrassing texts and revelations."


Three-quarters of a billion dollars is no small sum, even for Murdoch, and Fox is still facing a similar defamation suit from another elections firm, Smartmatic, which has asked for $2.7 billion in damages. (Dominion initially demanded $1.6 billion.) The network has often argued that its newsroom is walled off from ideological forces, but emails that were revealed in the case made clear that top executives had rebuked their own journalists who tried to fact-check Trump.


Still, Fox News was not required under the terms of the settlement to issue an on-air apology for the baseless claims it aired about Dominion, asserting the company had tried to rig the 2020 presidential election in Joe Biden's favor. And Fox's public statement about the settlement was hardly an apology.


"We acknowledge the court's rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false," the network wrote, adding, with Murdochian defiance, "This settlement reflects Fox's continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards."


From Heavy Showers to Awash in Flowers 冬雨(跟接連的陣雨)帶來繁花似錦
文/Jill Cowan


Torrential downpours this winter sent California residents fleeing from floods and mudslides. Blizzards dumped snow in the mountains, trapping locals in their homes for weeks. Hulking trees crashed into homes and severed power lines.


But the succession of atmospheric rivers did deliver relief from a prolonged drought. And it left behind other rewards that are only now emerging: The state is awash in color, from the Eastern Sierra to Malibu, from the deserts near San Diego to the meadows north of Sacramento.


"This is how we feed our souls," said Heather Schneider, a rare-plant biologist with the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.


California is experiencing a "super bloom," an explosion of floral color across hillsides and valleys that occurs only after a particularly wet season. The last time the state experienced the phenomenon on a widespread basis was four years ago — and with California's boom-bust cycles of precipitation, it is anyone's guess when the next one will come.


In dry years, many annual wildflower seeds lie dormant in the fragile layers of soil where their parents dropped them, waiting for rain so they can germinate. If enough water arrives, those flowers burst through, in an almost alchemical combination of moisture, temperature, timing and location.


California poppies in recent weeks have turned rolling hillsides into flame-orange canvasses in the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles. Carpets of yellow goldfields and purple phacelia have unfurled at the Carrizo Plain National Monument, the largest intact grassland in the state's Central Valley, about 70 miles west of Bakersfield. The flowers are so densely packed across wide swaths of land that recent satellite images look like they've been touched by a painter's brush.


For scientists like Schneider, who has been periodically visiting the Carrizo Plain for research, this year's flower bonanza is a prime opportunity to study ecosystems similar to those that may be lost to development or agriculture elsewhere. This year, she said, the sustained precipitation and colder temperatures were likely to give her and other researchers more time to study wildflowers than in past wet years.


Different flower species thrive in subtly different conditions. And botanists have predicted that this year's wildflower season could extend through the spring and into the summer, particularly at higher elevations.


"I kind of think of it in waves of color," Schneider said. Yellow is typically first, she noted. Then purple.




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