A $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems continues to trudge its way through the courts, dropping morsels of insight into Fox’s chaotic and ethically fraught inner workings.
That includes everything from Fox News host Tucker Carlson reading and amplifying the works of a Holocaust denier to the broader network systematically embracing lies that have damaged American democracy for the sake of profit.
“It’s pretty damn clear the motivation is the money-based machine on the opinion side that drives all their business decisions, that drives a lot of their programming decisions,” an unnamed Fox reporter told The Daily Beast last week.
Added another, “I think no regular person could read this and look at Fox like a news organization at this point.”
Fox News has said the lawsuit is an attack on the free press. “Dominion and its private equity owners join a long line of public figures and corporations across the country that have long tried to silence the press and this lawsuit from Staple Street Capital-owned Dominion is nothing more than another flagrant attack on the First Amendment,” the company said in a statement to HuffPost.
Amid the hubbub, here are five things from the filings you may have missed:
Tucker Carlson “always adlibs” falsehoods into his show, according to his producer, who finds it hilarious.
“Haha tucker always adlibs in wrong information,” wrote Alex Pfeiffer, a producer for “Tucker Carlson Tonight” at the time, in a 2021 exchange with another redacted recipient.
Don’t forget that just last week, Carlson opened his show with a lecture about liars ― having spent the past several years lying about the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“Liars behave differently,” he declared, without a hint of self-awareness. “Liars are touchy, sometimes to the point of hysteria. They’re hiding something. That’s the whole point of lying. And they’re worried you’re gonna find out what it is. Liars are fragile because over time, lying makes you weak and afraid.”
Rupert Murdoch has absolutely no qualms about putting his thumb on the scales for Republican causes and candidates.
Thanks to the Dominion filings, we’ve learned that, among other things, the Fox Corporation chair:
- Shared confidential information with Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner about Joe Biden’s campaign because “[Kushner’s] a friend of mine;”
- Instructed Fox executives to have Fox News host Sean Hannity “say something supportive” about Sen. Lindsay Graham in 2020 because “we cannot lose the Senate if at all possible;”
- Told Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott to be “helping any way we can” to sway the U.S. Senate race in Georgia for the Republican candidates in 2020.
Tucker Carlson reads and amplifies the work of white nationalists.
Carlson sent a text on Nov. 17, 2020, to a redacted recipient in which he shared a link to a column by David Cole, a white nationalist Holocaust denier. The column, published on a website known for hosting white supremacist writers, argued that Republicans should do more to demonize immigrants and accuse them of degrading America.
“That is a smart piece,” the unidentified person texted back.
Fox’s executives and prime-time opinion talent loathe the network’s news arm.
Numerous exchanges point to a massive internal schism between Fox’s opinion and news divisions, with the network’s top talent seeking to silence reporting that doesn’t reinforce their own false narratives (even those they know to be false, like the lie that the 2020 election was rigged).
After Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich fact-checked a claim by Trump in 2020, for instance, Hannity complained internally to senior executives.
“Sean texted me,” reads an email from corporate communications head Irena Briganti to Fox brass. “He’s standing down on responding but not happy about this and doesn’t understand how this is allowed to happen from anyone in news. She has serious nerve doing this.”
In a different exchange between hosts Laura Ingraham, Hannity and Carlson, Carlson said he believed Heinrich’s reporting was a fireable offense.
“Please get [Heinrich] fired,” he texted Ingraham and Hannity, according to the documents. “Seriously … What the fuck? I’m actually shocked … It needs to stop immediately, like tonight. It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.”
In a subsequent chat, the trio then trashed the network’s news side.
“They hate hate hate all 3 of us,” wrote Hannity.
“Good,” replied Ingraham. “I don’t want to be liked by them.”
“They’re pathetic. That’s why they’re so angry,” offered Carlson.
Hannity then described them as “all Shep smiths,” referring to Shepard Smith, a former Fox News anchor who left the network in 2019. After his departure, Smith publicly rebuked Fox for spreading lies that damaged the nation.
Fox de-platformed Democrats after Trump lost.
At the instruction of Murdoch and his son Lachlan, who also leads the network, Fox News’ CEO effectively banned certain Democrats from appearing “in the news hours” for two months after the 2020 election.
“Audiences don’t want to see too much of the Mayor Pete’s and [Sen. Chris] Coons etc in the news hours,” Scott told Fox News President and Executive Editor Jay Wallace in an email on Nov. 8, 2020. “Need to be careful about bookings next 2 months – especially in news hours.”
This article has been updated to include a statement from Fox News.