Tucker Carlson, host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” poses for photos at a Fox News Channel studio in New York.
Richard Drew | AP
Rupert Murdoch and Fox News anchors expressed their disbelief at former President Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud, according to evidence released from Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion lawsuit Fox Corp. and its cable television networks.
In court documents filed Thursday, text messages and testimony testimonies show Fox executives and television personalities have been skeptical of claims that the election between the victorious Joe Biden, a Democrat, and Trump, a Republican, had been rigged.
The release follows months of discoveries and testimonies that remained private until Thursday, when the companies filed court papers before a Delaware judge, detailing each of their cases and revealing recently gathered evidence. The documents were revealed hours after Georgia authorities released a small portion of a grand jury report into a separate criminal investigation into Trump’s alleged election interference in that state.
Dominion filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox and its right-wing cable networks Fox News and Fox Business, arguing the networks and its anchors made false claims that its voting machines rigged the results of the 2020 election.
“Really crazy stuff. And harmful,” Fox Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch said in an email Nov. 19, weeks after the election, in reference to claims Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani made to Fox News.
Top Fox News anchors including Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham expressed disbelief at what Sidney Powell, a pro-Trump attorney who had aggressively promoted allegations of voter fraud, also said at the time.
“Sydney Powell is lying,” Tucker Carlson said in a text message to his producer, misspelling Powell’s first name. Meanwhile, in a message to Carlson, Laura Ingraham said: “Sidney is a complete nutcase. No one’s going to work with her. Ditto for Rudy.”
“It’s incredibly offensive to me. Our viewers are good people and they believe it,” Carlson replied, according to court documents. This news came in the weeks following the election.
Dominion said in court filings that Fox admitted that Hannity and Lou Dobbs’ shows did not “challenge the narrative” that Dominion was responsible for rigging the election or releasing inaccurate results.
A person walks past the Fox News headquarters in the News Corporation building on May 3, 2022 in New York City.
Alexi Rosenfeld Getty Images
On Thursday, both Fox Corp. and Fox News are filing their own summary judgment motions. Fox Corp., which saw its bid to dismiss the case dismissed by the court, said in court filings that the records in the case, after a year of discovery, show that they had “no role in the preparation and release of the contested statements — all of which aired on either Fox Business Network or Fox News Channel.”
In recent months, Murdoch and his son, Lachlan Murdoch, the CEO of Fox Corp., have faced testimony in the lawsuit.
Fox News again said in court filings that it “has fulfilled its obligation to provide full disclosure and fair comment” on allegations that Dominion rigged the election against Trump.
“Dominion and its opportunistic private equity owners will create a lot of noise and confusion, but at the heart of this case remains freedom of the press and speech, fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by the New York Times v. Sullivan,” Fox said in a statement released on Thursday.
A Dominion spokesman did not comment and its private equity owner Staple Street Capital did not respond to a request for comment.
Rudolph Giuliani and Sidney Powell, attorneys for President Donald Trump, conduct a…
Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
“Here, however, overwhelming direct evidence supports Fox’s knowledge of untruth, not just ‘doubt,'” Dominion said in court filings Thursday, pointing to several defamatory statements.
However, the court filings filed by Dominion, Fox News and its parent company all contained redactions.
On Friday, Dominion filed a challenge to the redactions, asking the Delaware judge to release all documents. Dominion said none of the editors did it, and they all came at Fox’s request.
“Dominion’s position is that nothing in these three briefs warrants confidentiality,” the filing reads. A Fox spokesman did not immediately comment on the challenge.
Noting the audience backlash Fox News faced on 2020 election night when it called Arizona about Biden, Dominion later saw how competing right-wing networks like Newsmax capitalized on the audience opening.
Dominion’s findings suggest hosts like Carlson, Ingraham and Hannity “understand the threat to them personally.” Dominion references messages Carlson sent to his producer on November 5: “We’ve worked really hard to build what we have. These f…ers destroy our credibility.
The case is being closely watched by First Amendment guardians and experts. Defamation lawsuits usually revolve around an untruth. In this case, Dominion cites a long list of examples of Fox TV hosts making false claims even after they were proven untrue. Media companies are often largely protected by the First Amendment.
These cases are usually settled out of court or dismissed quickly. But the Delaware judge overseeing the case has so far dismissed such requests. The trial is scheduled to begin in mid-April.
Last week, during a status conference, Dominion’s attorney expressed concerns that some evidence, such as minutes from board meetings and the results of searches of personal drives, has yet to be produced by Fox and its television networks.