It’s time to Break It Down!
Dominion Voting Systems has filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News. The suit is one of at least two that have consumed more than a little of the conservative news outlet’s time and attention of late. Smartmatic, a global election technology company, headquartered in London, lodged its suit in February 2021. In their opening statement, Smartmatic noted, “The Earth is round. Two plus two equals four. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the 2020 election.” As kids like to say, before dropping the mic, “facts!” The $2.7 billion defamation suit initiated by Smartmatic has been greenlighted by a New York court. So, while Dominion’s suit is underway, and the subject of this post, stay tuned. There’s more to come.
Let me premise this discourse by stipulating the obvious, Donald Trump is not the cause of the great American culture schism. The issues that divide us are as old as the nation itself. But let’s not kid ourselves, the former president most certainly played a role in our having arrived at the space we currently occupy. His willingness to fan the flames poor White discontent, along with his reluctance to disavow White nationalists and their ideology provided a not at all subtle signal to culture warriors. Thank you very much 45.
But I digress. Mr. Murdoch, alas, has found himself in court, where his responses are under oath. As such, all the cutesy doublespeak, spin, and half-truths that just seem to be a part and parcel to the conservative media ecosystem, are off the table.
Shortly after Election Day 2020, Rupert Murdoch knew the hosts on his prized Fox News Channel were endorsing lies from then-President Donald Trump about election fraud.
Of course, that was just the appetizer. The entrée was he did nothing to intervene.
In fact, the controlling owner of the jewel of Murdoch’s enterprises opted to sidestep the truth, allowing his network to run with a narrative that the big lie for truth, in order not to further anger Fox’s Trumpcentric audience by confronting their sensibilities with more election facts. After all, the network had already left its audience, and Donald Trump confused, incredulous, and down-right mortified by calling Arizona for Biden before any other network.
When Mr. Murdoch was asked whether he could have told Fox News’ chief executive and its stars to stop airtime to Rudy Giuliani – a key Trump campaign attorney peddling election lies – he assented, and answered, “I could have, but I didn’t.”
That picture emerged in evidence presented this week in court, based on evidence presented by Dominion. Conversely, Fox Corporation is arguing that the parent company and its executives are wrongly being held responsible for reporting on the baseless assertions of a president and his advisers.
This is where I pause to note that even Fox News attorney are not arguing with the assertion that Trump and his associates were making baseless claims about rampant voter fraud and stolen elections. Please, all conservatives who either still believe, or at least, who are still arguing that point, take note of the posture/position of folks who have seen the test questions, and who know the answers…Trump’s allegations did not happen…as if the more than 60 lost or dismissed lawsuits filed by Team Trump weren’t big enough clues. Plural.
Fox called Dominion’s stance “extreme, citing free speech concerns, calling Dominion’s legal position “a blatant violation of the First Amendment” that would prevent journalists from basic reporting. While my non-legalistic interpretation of that statement is, Fox basically argued that the freedom of speech clause essentially means, their network is free to tell lies to their viewers…with no repercussions, Dominion took a more strategically nuanced tack. They introduced the Fox Unplugged, or you might say, in their own words.
Under oath, the senior Murdoch confirmed the suggestion by a Dominion lawyer that Fox was “trying to straddle the line between spewing conspiracy theories on one hand, yet calling out the fact they are actually false on the other.”
Asked by a Dominion attorney whether “Fox endorsed at times this false notion of a stolen election,” Murdoch demurred, saying, “Not Fox, no. Not Fox. But maybe Lou Dobbs, maybe Maria [Bartiromo] as commentators.”
The lawyer pressed on. Did Fox’s Bartiromo endorse it?
Murdoch’s reply: “Yes. C’mon.”
Fox News host Jeanine Pirro? “I think so.”
Then-Fox Business Network host Dobbs? “Oh, a lot.”
Fox News prime-time star Sean Hannity? “A bit.”
Pressed whether they endorsed the narrative of a stolen election, Murdoch finally gave in: “Yes. They endorsed.”
Fox denied its executives played any role in broadcasting false claims, and argued there was no evidence showing the Murdoch’s involvement. In response Dominion laid out the Murdoch’s hands-on role after the election, introducing emails and other communications reflecting deep involvement by the Murdochs and other Fox Corporation senior executives. Detailed memos showed the elder Murdoch’s concern that Fox was getting killed by CNN after it called the election for Biden on November 7th.
On Nov. 8, Rupert Murdoch sent an email saying that Fox News was “[g]etting creamed” by CNN. Under oath, he later said that he, Scott, and Lachlan Murdoch held “a long talk” about “the direction Fox should take” that day in response to the falling ratings. They decided together to give play to Trump’s baseless assertions. “[T]his was big news,” Murdoch said in his deposition. “The President of the United States was making wild claims, but that is news.”
At the end of the day, the courts may be the great leveler. In an environment where there are consequences for dissembling, rather than telling the truth, even the powers behind the great Fox News may be motivated to be truthful. In this case, “Murdoch Throws Fox Talent Under The Bus: They “Endorsed” 2020 Election Lies!”
I’m done; holla back!
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Great article…I must admit following the third paragraph I asked myself, why are you reading anything related to Fox News’ hypocrisy…but the more I read the less I felt this may end in their favor. My detest for anything Fox-related needs to be reexamined…it sounds like they may be starting to wipe the shit off fan.
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As they say, it’s complicated. I’m not sure they’re really aspiring to be better. Seems more like an effort to avoid a hefty payout. They’ve admitted to similar things before…in court, but still persisted without substantive change in their on-air persona. Time will tell.