Dominion defamation suit alleges Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch had doubts about Fox News’ post-2020 election coverage

Court records in the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems show that some top Fox News executives harbored doubts about what was said on the shows after the 2020 election, and even after President Biden was inaugurated.

A day after Inauguration Day, on January 21, 2021, Fox News Chairman Rupert Murdoch exclaimed, “We’re still getting mud thrown at us. Is there a significant opportunity to nullify the result?”

“Maybe Sean (Hannity) and Laura (Ingraham) went too far,” Murdoch wrote at the time. “All fine for Sean to tell you he was desperate about Trump, but what was he telling his viewers?”

In another email exchange, on Nov. 17, 2020, Sidney Powell — a former attorney for former President Donald Trump — told Fox News host Tucker Carlson, “Believe I emailed you an affidavit earlier today. More evidence to come inside.” But Carlson had doubts.

“You keep telling our viewers that millions of votes have been changed by the software. I hope you will prove that soon,” he told Powell. “You convinced them Trump will win. If you don’t have conclusive evidence of fraud on that scale, it’s cruel and reckless to keep saying.”

On November 22, then-Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani issued a statement saying that Powell was not an attorney for the Trump campaign or for Trump. Still, she continued to appear on Fox News and Fox Business Network for days, until Dec. 10, the Washington Post noted. Another voting software company, Smartmatic, sent a letter to Fox News and other far-right networks demanding the retraction of what they said were defamatory statements about Smartmatic voting equipment. Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox followed within days.

Dominion also sued Powell in a separate lawsuit for $1.3 billion.

Dominion, which sells electronic voting equipment used in several states in the 2020 election, is suing Fox News and its parent company Fox Corporation, arguing that “executives at all levels of Fox…knowingly opened Fox’s airwaves for false conspiracy theories about Dominion.”

In its filing, Dominion extensively quoted the documents released by the court on Tuesday. In an email released Tuesday, Murdoch wrote to Fox News President Suzanne Scott five days after the election, on November 8, 2020, “Getting cremated by CNN! I don’t think our viewers want to see it.”

By November 7, Mr. Biden was projected by media organizations to win the election.

The gist of Dominion’s argument is that Fox News’ top executives and some of its hosts knew the outlandish conspiracy claims espoused by Trump allies and lawyers on his shows were false, but they aired them anyway to avoid alienating their conservatives. audience.

“Thanks to today’s charges, Dominion has once again been caught in the act of using more distortions and misinformation in their public relations campaign to defame FOX News and trample on freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” Fox said in a statement Tuesday night. CBS News. “We already know they will say and do anything to try and win this case, but to twist quotes and even misattribute them to the highest levels of our company is truly unimaginable.”

Fox argued in its own counterclaim that Dominion’s lawsuit should be dropped because the company only brought the lawsuit “to [Fox News Network] for reporting one of the biggest stories of the day – allegations by the sitting president of the United States and his deputies that the 2020 election was influenced by fraud,” the Fox filing reads. “The mere fact of those allegations was newsworthy.”

Scott MacFarlane, C Mandler, Julia Kimani Burnham, and Caitlin Yilek contributed to this report.

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