Dominion sued Fox News Networks and parent company Fox Corp in 2021 for $1.6 billion for defamation. The electronic voting system company accused the television network of spreading lies that Dominion machines were used to rig the 2020 election against Donald Trump.
Court documents released Monday revealed that not only did Murdoch know his network was spreading falsehoods, but he also continued to allow the hosts and guest speakers to appear on screen.
Murdoch acknowledged that multiple popular Fox News hosts such as Sean Hannity, Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs, and Jeanine Pirro were “endorsing” the conspiracy that the election had been stolen.
He also said he knew regular guests such as Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani and My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell were spreading the election lies, but he continued to allow them on air. His reason, as he explained in Lindell’s case, was that “it is not red or blue, it is green.” What is democracy compared to dollars, apparently?
On January 5, 2021, Murdoch considered releasing a joint statement with Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham saying some variation of “The election is over, and Joe Biden won.” They didn’t, and the next day, hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to stop the certification of votes and potentially to capture and kill lawmakers.
Fox News has long been accused of peddling Trump’s falsehoods and toadying to the former president. Hannity and Carlson have appeared at Trump rallies and acted as unofficial advisers. In further proof that Fox and Trump were unethical bedfellows, Murdoch also said that he gave Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and chief adviser, private access to supposedly confidential information about Biden’s campaign ads before it was published.
This isn’t the first bombshell Dominion has dropped regarding its lawsuit, which is expected to go to trial in April. Earlier this month, the company released a trove of messages and deposition excerpts from Fox News hosts, including Carlson and Ingraham, in which they admitted they knew the election conspiracies were false and the Trumpist lawyers spouting them weren’t credible. But they continued to have these guests on their shows anyway.
Fox has gone mum about the Dominion lawsuit since that initial court document release, even prohibiting its media correspondent, Howard Kurtz, from covering the case.
Fox has argued that its post-2020 election coverage was newsworthy and thus protected by the First Amendment. But Murdoch’s deposition just further drives home the fact that they knew what they were doing, and it wasn’t journalism.