Thursday, March 2, 2023

Evidence Reveals Fox Hosts and its Chairman Perpetuated Stolen Election Lie to Keep Trump Viewers Tuned In

When I first heard about the Dominion lawsuit against Fox News, I applauded the company for fighting back against the lies about its election machinery helping Biden steal the 2020 presidential election.  However, I didn't give Dominion a chance of winning.  After all, in judging defamation cases, the United States employs an actual malice standard, a very high hurdle for plaintiffs.  Basically it requires that the defendant actually knows he or she is telling a harmful lie, but does it anyway.  Finding evidence of actual malice during discovery - the equivalent of a smoking gun - is virtually impossible.  Thus, I figured the Dominion defamation lawsuit was more about protecting the company's reputation in the court of public opinion, not winning the case in court.  

I may have been wrong.  Fox News' chairman Rupert Murdoch and the networks' hosts have provided plenty of evidence of actual malice, both in emails and during deposition testimony.   The New York Times reports:

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the conservative media empire that owns Fox News, acknowledged in a deposition that several hosts for his networks promoted the false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald J. Trump, and that he could have stopped them but didn’t, court documents released on Monday showed.

“They endorsed,” Mr. Murdoch said under oath in response to direct questions about the Fox hosts Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, according to a legal filing by Dominion Voting Systems. “I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it in hindsight,” he added, while also disclosing that he was always dubious of Mr. Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud.

Asked whether he doubted Mr. Trump, Mr. Murdoch responded: “Yes. I mean, we thought everything was on the up-and-up.” At the same time, he rejected the accusation that Fox News as a whole had endorsed the stolen election narrative. “Not Fox,” he said. “No. Not Fox.”

Mr. Murdoch’s remarks, which he made last month as part of Dominion’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox, added to the evidence that Dominion has accumulated as it tries to prove its central allegation: The people running the country’s most popular news network knew Mr. Trump’s claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election were false but broadcast them anyway in a reckless pursuit of ratings and profit.


The new documents and a similar batch released this month provide a dramatic account from inside the network, depicting a frantic scramble as Fox tried to woo back its large conservative audience after ratings collapsed in the wake of Mr. Trump’s loss. Fox had been the first network to call Arizona for Joseph R. Biden on election night — essentially declaring him the next president. When Mr. Trump refused to concede and started attacking Fox as disloyal and dishonest, viewers began to change the channel.

The filings also revealed that top executives and on-air hosts had reacted with incredulity bordering on contempt to various fictitious allegations about Dominion. These included unsubstantiated rumors — repeatedly uttered by guests and hosts of Fox programs — that its voting machines could run a secret algorithm that switched votes from one candidate to another, and that the company was founded in Venezuela to help that country’s longtime leader, Hugo Ch├ívez, fix elections.

Fox's legal response to the evidence is that its on-air hosts were not endorsing the views of those who they put on air following the election.   But it appears that Fox's hosts were pushing the stolen election myth because they were afraid its Trump supporting viewers would turn the channel if Fox didn't perpetuate the lie of the stolen election.  These Fox lies are still going on.  Just a few days ago, the number one Fox host, Tucker Carlson lashed out against President Biden for "lecturing" Americans about democracy when he "took power in an election so sketchy that many Americans don't believe it was even real."  And why do those Americans, wrongly, believe the election was sketchy?  Because Fox hosts like Tucker Carlson spent months airing information they knew was false.

Republicans actually had a very good election in 2020.  One Republican, however, did not.  That was Donald Trump who ran behind virtually every GOP candidate in the country.  Rather than election fraud, a review of the results indicates Trump lost because a significant number of Republican voters in the swing states crossed over to vote for Biden. Were it not for those GOP cross-over voters, Trump would have won.

Of course, the real reason Trump lost, i.e. Republicans voted against him - won't be shown on Fox News.

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