Some Fox Information anchors “confirmed” false claims of voter fraud
Members of Rise and Resist participate in their weekly “Truth Tuesday” protest at News Corp’s headquarters on February 21, 2023 in New York City.
Michael M Santiago | News from Getty Images | Getty Images
Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch said some presenters at the company’s TV stations parroted false allegations of fraud in the months following the 2020 election, new court filings revealed on Monday.
In new filings in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox and its networks, Murdoch said he doubted the voter fraud allegations aired on Fox News and Fox Business Network.
Murdoch also acknowledged that Fox TV presenters supported the false allegations of voter fraud. In blunt Q&A from Murdoch’s testimony, when Murdoch was asked if he was “now aware that Fox at times supported this false notion of a stolen election,” Murdoch replied, “Not Fox, no. Not foxes. But maybe Lou Dobbs, maybe Maria [Bartiromo] as commentators.”
“Some of our commenters have supported it,” Murdoch said in his responses during the statement. “You have agreed.”
Dominion sued Fox and its right-wing cable networks Fox News and Fox Business, arguing the networks and its personalities made false claims that its voting machines rigged the results of the 2020 election. Fox News has consistently denied knowingly making false claims about the election, saying “at the core of this case remains freedom of the press and freedom of expression.”
In earlier court filings, Fox said that the past year of discovery showed that the company “played no role in the creation and publication of the contested statements — all of which were broadcast on either Fox Business Network or Fox News Channel.”
Murdoch and his son, Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch, and Fox Chief Legal and Policy Officer Viet Dinh have been questioned in recent months in connection with the lawsuit. Court documents were released in early February showing snippets of evidence Dominion gathered during the months-long process of discovery and testimony, which included Fox TV figures.
Text messages and testimonies have shown that Fox executives and Fox television hosts have been skeptical of claims that the election between Joe Biden, a Democrat, and Trump, a Republican, had been rigged.
Dominion said in court documents filed Monday that Fox’s defense that the statements made were opinions “got nowhere.”
“While some of the statements made by Fox hosts could be qualified as ‘opinions,’ they are still punishable when – as here – based on false or undisclosed facts,” Dominion said.
A Fox News representative reiterated in a statement Monday that Dominion mischaracterized the facts through cherry picking: “If Dominion doesn’t mischaracterize the law, it misjudges the facts.”
Fox has also targeted Dominion’s private equity owner in court filings regarding Dominion’s $1.6 billion damages claim, saying the firm paid “a small fraction of that amount” to buy Dominion. Fox has also said in court filings that the $1.6 billion figure is unrelated to Dominion’s financial value.
“Dominion’s lawsuit has always been more about what will make headlines than what will stand up to legal and factual scrutiny. ‘ a Fox spokesman said in a statement Monday. “Her motion for summary judgment took an extreme, unsupported view of the defamation law, which would bar journalists from basic reporting, and her efforts to publicly defame FOX for covering and commenting on allegations by a sitting President of the United States be recognized for what they are: a blatant violation of the First Amendment.”
A Dominion spokesman said Monday: “The claim for damages remains. As Fox well knows, our losses exceed $1.6 billion.”
Dominion not only brought its lawsuit against the television networks, but also against its parent company, Fox Corp. and argued that the parent company and its top executives had played a role in spreading misinformation about voter fraud by Fox figures. A Delaware judge ruled that Dominion’s case extends beyond the networks to Fox Corp. could be expanded.
Court filings Monday show Murdoch and other Fox executives remained closed during Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott’s election coverage.
“I’m a journalist at heart. I like being involved in these things,” Murdoch said during testimony, according to court documents.
Tucker Carlson, host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” poses for photos at a Fox News Channel studio in New York.
Richard Drew | AP
Previous court documents have shown that top anchors such as Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham expressed disbelief in Sidney Powell, a pro-Trump lawyer who was aggressively promoting allegations of voter fraud at the time.
Paul Ryan, former Republican Speaker of the House and Fox board member, also sat for questioning as part of the lawsuit. Court filings released Monday show that Ryan said “these conspiracy theories are unfounded” and that the network “should work to dispel conspiracy theories if and when they surface.”
Ryan also told both Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch “that Fox News should not be spreading conspiracy theories,” according to the filings.
Dominion alleges that Fox News anchors felt audience pressure and were linked to rival right-wing networks such as Newsmax, leading to allegations of on-air cheating.
The court filings have also provided other insights into the network’s internal response to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, the day a violent mob entered the US Capitol in support of then-President Donald Trump.
Fox executives halted Trump’s attempt to appear on the station’s show that evening after he dialed into on-air personality Lou Dobbs’ show that afternoon, court filings show.
That same evening, Carlson texted his producer, calling Trump “a demonic force. A destroyer.
Meanwhile, on the night before Jan. 6, court filings showed Murdoch told Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott, “It has been suggested that our three of us might be doing something like, ‘The election is over and Joe Biden won’ should say.”
The lawsuit is being closely monitored by First Amendment watchdogs and experts. Defamation lawsuits usually focus on an untruth, but in this case, Dominion cites a long list of examples of Fox TV hosts making false claims even after they have been shown to be untrue. Media companies are often largely protected by the First Amendment.
A status conference in the case is scheduled for next week, with the trial scheduled to begin in mid-April.