TRight-wing media giant Fox News is facing a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, a Denver-based voting machine maker, over the network’s coverage of the 2020 presidential election and false allegations of The Donald Trump that the contest was “rigged.” .
In a 192-page court filing released Feb. 16, which included private messages from many of the network’s biggest stars, Dominion claims: “From the top down, Fox knew that ‘Dominion stuff’ was ” total bs’.
“Yet, despite knowing the truth — or at least, recklessly ignoring that truth — Fox propagated and endorsed these ‘outlandish voter fraud claims’ about Dominion, even as it internally recognized the lies as ‘crazy,’ “absurd” and “shockingly reckless”. ,” the filing said.
Fox’s lawyers, however, argued that Dominion mischaracterized the record and events by “selecting audio tracks” and “omitting basic context” and accused the company of seeking “stupendous” damages with the goal of winning titles. silencing protected speech and enriching its owner, Staple Street Capital Partners, and its investors.
“Dominion brought this lawsuit to punish the Fox News Network for reporting one of the biggest stories of the day – the allegations by the sitting president of the United States and his surrogates that the 2020 election was rigged,” he said. the company in counterclaim.
“The very fact of these allegations was remarkable.”
Fox’s lawyers argue that when the polling technology companies denied the allegations by Mr. Trump and his surrogates, Fox News aired those denials while some of its hosts offered protected opinion commentary about the allegations.
Fox has argued that the “core” of the case is freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights granted by the constitution and protected by New York Times v Sullivan.”
A five-week trial is scheduled to begin on April 17.
Despite the network’s top officials and anchors privately acknowledging that then-President Trump and his allies were lying, the network continued to carry them on air to bolster those claims, which also bolstered competing right-wing media networks that seemed to threaten Fox’s ratings. in court documents.
Here’s a brief overview of some of the claims in court documents, which collect affidavits and internal messages from prominent Fox News personalities such as Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham and owner Rupert Murdoch discussing coverage of the aftermath of 2020 elections.
Murdoch admits top Fox figures “endorsed” the false election claims
The chairman of the conservative media empire said hosts including Mr Hannity, Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro “have at times supported this bogus idea of a stolen election”, claims the former president and his allies continue to strengthen as it seeks to reassess. -elections to office in 2024.
“I wish we were stronger in denouncing it after the fact,” Mr. Murdoch said in an affidavit, according to court documents.
Murdoch provided Jared Kushner with information about the Biden campaign
The veteran tycoon reportedly provided Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, with “confidential information about Biden’s ads, along with debate strategy (giving Kushner a preview of Biden’s ads before they went public),” according to a file from Dominion.
Anchors raved about (correct) decision to call Arizona for Biden
High-profile Fox anchors privately bemoaned the network’s biggest election night call, according to the filing, with Mr. Hannity protesting in a text on Nov. 12, 2020: “In one week and one debate they destroyed a brand that It took 25 years to build and the damage is incalculable.”
He later reportedly said Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy: “You’re not off base.”
Mr. Carlson told him: “I’ve heard from angry viewers every hour of the day all weekend, even at dinner tonight,” to which Mr. Hannity replied: “Same, same. This has never happened before.”
On election night, Kushner called Murdoch saying, “This is terrible,” according to a filing from Dominion.
“And I could hear Trump’s voice in the background yelling,” according to Murdoch, quoted in the deposition.
“And I said, ‘Well, the numbers are the numbers,'” the filing said.
Mr Murdoch and Fox leadership met days after Election Day over concerns of “escalating viewer backlash on Fox” after the network correctly predicted Biden won Arizona, but the network agreed to air “wild claims” that the election was stolen by Trump while Fox News’ “positive impressions” among its viewers “plunged after Election Day to the lowest levels” the network had seen.
At one point, Mr. Murdoch suggested that longtime Fox News vice president Bill Sammon should “(let) go right away” about calling the Arizona race, despite its accuracy, to send “a big message with Trump’s world,” according to court documents. .
Carlson called for the White House network correspondent to be fired
In a message purportedly sent in a group chat with Ms. Ingraham and Mr. Hannity on Nov. 12, Mr. Carlson pointed to a tweet by the network’s White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich, in which she verified a post by .Trump alleging voter fraud, noting that “senior election infrastructure officials” had said: “There is no evidence that any election system has deleted or lost votes, altered votes or been compromised in any way.”
Mr Carlson responded by saying: “Please fire her. Seriously… What the f***? I’m really shocked… It has to stop immediately tonight, like tonight. It hurts the company immeasurably. The stock price is down. No joke.”
Murdoch thought about having stars appear together to declare Biden the winner
The tycoon reportedly considered asking Hannity, Carlson and Ms. Ingraham to give a joint prime-time speech in which they publicly stated that Biden legitimately won the White House and that fraud played no part in the outcome.
Doing so “would go a long way toward stopping Trump’s myth that the election was stolen,” he told CEO Suzanne Scott on Jan. 5, 2021, according to a Dominion filing.
Carlson called Trump a ‘demonic force’
In an anxious text to his producer Alex Pfeiffer about the dangers of upsetting Mr. Trump for coverage of the January 6 Capitol riot, Carlson describes him as “a demonic force, a destroyer,” adding: “But not it is going to destroy. us.”
“What he’s good at is destroying things,” he wrote, according to court records. “He is the undisputed world champion of this. It could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.”
Murdoch tells Fox CEO to ‘help in any way we can’ in Georgia
The mogul emailed Ms Scott on November 16 with a link to an article on The Wall Street Journal about Fox’s rival network Newsmax.
“These people should be watched if they’re skeptical,” he told her, before advising her to devote coverage to the Georgia Senate runoff and promoting GOP candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who would ultimately lose to Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff.
Mr Murdoch continued: “Trump will eventually concede and we will have to focus on Georgia, helping in any way we can. We don’t want to antagonize Trump further, but (Rudy) Giuliani with a big grain of salt. Everything is at stake here.”
Senior figures are embarrassed by Giuliani’s antics
It wasn’t just Mr. Murdoch who had doubts about former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to push the election fraud narrative.
A file from Dominion collects messages from other Fox stars concerned about his appearances, with Mr. Hannity remarking on Nov. 11: “Rudy’s acting like a lunatic.”
Ms Ingraham said on December 12 that he was “so stupid” and Lou Dobbs’ producer John Fawcett said on January 3 that the veteran politician was “so full of s***”.
Trump lawyer forwards ‘wackadoodle’ campaign conspiracy tip
Sidney Powell, one of the most prominent lawyers pushing Trump’s bogus legal efforts to overturn the election results, reportedly forwarded an email he had received from an anonymous tipster to Ms Bartiromo in which she admitted she was “pretty mad ,” claiming that Dominion’s machines were the “one common thread” that connected “the election irregularities in a number of states.”
This sender apparently also believed that the late US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had been “deliberately killed at the annual Bohemian Grove camp…during a week-long manhunt mission,” and wrote: “Who am I? And how do I know all this?… I’ve had the strangest dreams since I was a little girl… I’ve been beheaded inside, and yet I live… The wind tells me I’m a ghost, but don’t believe it.”
Elsewhere, Mr. Carlson accused Ms. Powell of lying and called her “evil.” Ms Ingraham said of her: “Sydney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto Rudy.”
Jeanine Pirro is considered “crazy” by her colleagues
Ms. Pirro’s producers said on Nov. 7 that they believed she was “looking for work somewhere else,” fearing that her exchanges with guests about whether or not the election was stolen would not be productive, according to court documents.
“She was removed because she was crazy,” tweeted producer Justin Wells. “The visuals are bad. But she’s crazy.”
Fox sent Mike Lindell a gift
MyPillow founder and prominent election fraud conspiracy theorist Mike Liddell quickly emerged as one of the most passionate supporters of the false narrative that the election was stolen by Trump as it appeared on rival right-wing media outlets. Fox News appeared flustered when Mr. Lindell criticized the network during an interview with Newsmax.
Ms Scott duly sent him a gift with a handwritten note, hoping to win him over, according to documents.
This story was first published on February 17 and has been updated with developments and comments