The 2020 Election: When Fox News Learned To Tell Them All About The Inconvenient Truths and How It Was Driven By Murdoch
It will likely be argued in court that Fox thought telling the inconvenient truths was bad for business and that’s what drove the right-wing media in 2020. The Republican Party is unwilling to anger its base voters two years after taking office. While many top party leaders have signaled they want to move on from Trump, the only part of the GOP that has power in Washington – the House Republican majority – has made repeated efforts to shield Trump from accountability over the 2020 election and to distort what actually happened on January 6, 2021.
In the run-up to the trial, Dominion publicly released reams of internal communications among Fox executives, hosts and producers that show how the network was able to get back viewers who had stopped watching after Mr. Trump lost. The messages show how a frantic scramble inside Fox started as it began to lose audience share to competitors that were more willing to report on and promote false claims about a plot involving machines to steal the election from Mr. Trump.
The outcome of the trial, however, is not likely to dramatically change the dishonest way in which Fox News operates. The channel is the profit engine in Murdoch’s media empire and its business model is dependent on feeding its viewership a steady stream of right-wing infotainment.
The drama expected to play out in a Delaware courtroom represents an extraordinary moment in modern American history because it could show how truth has been tarnished as a political currency and highlight a right-wing business model that depends on spinning an alternative reality. And yet, it remains unclear whether Trump – the primary author of the corrosive conspiracies that the 2020 election was fraudulent – will end up paying a significant personal or political price.
Dominion can also prevail by proving that these figures inside Fox may not have intentionally promoted lies, but that they acted with a reckless disregard for the truth.
What Did Fox Do? If You Can’t Fix It, Then What Does Them Have? The Public Debate Between Trump and Biden during a 2016 Insight Dinner
The possible indictment of the man who was president appears to be in the investigations of his attempt to overturn the election of President Joe Biden and his conduct leading up to the US Capitol insurrection. And the many layers of Trump’s democracy-damaging behavior were catalogued in interviews and public testimony taken by a House select committee when Democrats controlled the chamber last year.
To win back the White House, Trump needs a falsehood of a corrupt election. Many of Trump’s supporters believe he was illegally ejected from office based on the idea that he actually won in 2020.
It’s also questionable whether viewers of conservative media will hear much about the trial and get sufficient information that might convince them to change their minds about 2020.
Some of the party leaders who watched as the candidates Trump supported flamed out in swing states due to their false statements are not happy about the fact that Trump continues to spread such lies.
Georgia GOP Gov. Brian Kemp stated on “State of the Union” that the ex-president is making it difficult to look to the future for his party.
But the court proceeding against Fox – like the constitutional process that assured a transfer of power between Trump and Biden, albeit one marred by violence – shows that the country’s instruments of accountability remain intact, despite Trump’s efforts.
But the run-up to the trial has been a catalog of embarrassments and reversals for both the network and the broader premise that there is anything to Trump’s false claims.
“To go up there and say, ‘What Fox did was protected by the First Amendment,’ it’s half the story. If you can not show actual malice it is protected by the First Amendment.
Fox has said it never intentionally suppressed any evidence in the case. And, in a remarkable move, lawyers for the network sent an apology to the judge Friday, showing contrition and taking responsibility for the “misunderstanding” that led to the special master’s inquiry.
Fox personalities including Pirro and Mark Levin ginned up viewer anger ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, rally headlined by Trump at the Washington Mall to protest the scheduled congressional certification of Biden’s victory. When the U.S. Capitol was violently besieged that day by Trump’s supporters, Fox responded shakily. Fox’s Carlson claimed that the attack on Congress was harmless and also simultaneously arranged by Antifa and the FBI. There is no evidence on which to base such claims.
Dominion’s Legal Team Isn’t Making the Team Biger, But It’s Just As Big As It Gets
This isn’t surprising. When he was President, Trump made sure to let the world in on his strategy and how he operated.
Keep with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news,” he said in a directive to his supporters at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Kansas City in 2018. What you are seeing and reading isn’t what is happening.
In 2016 we won. We won by much more in 2020 but it was rigged,” Trump said in the first big rally of his campaign in Waco, Texas, at the end of March.
“If you look in the rearview mirror too long while you’re driving, you’re going to look up, and you’re going to be running into somebody, and that’s not going to be good.”
Yet the fact that Trump, according to many polls, remains the front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2024 and is still wildly popular with conservative grassroots voters suggests that it will take far more than a courtroom display to restore the truth about 2020.
At the Republican National Committee’s spring retreat in Tennessee over the weekend, a swing-state GOP governor told major donors the party’s future political success depended in part on Fox News.
In a speech about attracting independents and young people to the Republican Party, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said he had urged Fox News to break out of its “echo chamber” for Republicans to prosper.
The material gathered by Dominion’s legal team shows that Fox is a deeply conservative institution with its leaders closely connected to Republican politics.
Sununu talked to Republican donors at the Four Seasons Hotel in Nashville. We are tied up in issues. I’m not saying they’re not important, but they ain’t making the team bigger.”
Gop Governor ‘Sells Out of Its Echo Chamber’: Fox News Sensitive to the Voting Problem, Not the Candidates’ Question
According to him, the party had an appealing “product” for voters, including younger voters, with low taxes, and local governmental control.
“I was on with [Fox News business anchor and senior vice president Neil] Cavuto this morning, and I talk to the leadership at Fox all the time,” Sununu said.
“I go, ‘Look guys, I saw a panel discussion with four panelists on Fox and they all were literally agreeing with each other… They’re talking in an echo chamber. What are you doing to grow the team?'”
An excerpt of the talk was obtained from an attendee by Lauren Windsor, a liberal activist and consultant. The governor said something.
Sununu’s remarks come at a delicate moment for Fox. The trial was delayed for one day and now starts on Tuesday morning, while its lawyers try to negotiate a possible settlement.
Gop Governor: He Suggests the Fox News to Break Out Of Its Choke Cham for 2020 Dem Demographics and 2020 Term Limits
It’s long been known that Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch has sought to influence elections in his native Australia, the U.K., and the U.S., both in his news pages and programs and behind the scenes. Paul Ryan is a member of the corporate board of Fox Corp. The network’s corporate parent is located in the United States. He was one of the people who argued for the release of election conspiracy theories from Fox.
And Trump drew from a roster of Fox personalities for appointments to his administration. Lou Dobbs advised him off the air, as did other Fox stars. After another elections tech company filed a defamation claim against Fox, Dots would be forced out.
A Fox spokesman said that surveys suggest that the show’s biggest audiences include the Democrats and independents.
NPR reported in November of 2020 that the RNC Chairwoman had been invited on the night before Biden was projected to win the presidency.
A memo prepared by the GOP set out details of the show’s opening segment, including guests and topics, as well as the main points of the show. They focused on suspicions of voter fraud.
In late September 2020, Murdoch warned Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, that the Biden campaign ads were better. On the day after his former wife helped to reconcile Kushner with his wife, the media magnate sent another email.
Biden is in the same football this Sunday at 1.0 pm. The game is very good. I think so. Murdoch said in an email that he would send it.
After Biden was projected to win by Fox on November 10th, star Host Maria Bartiromo sent a text message to her former boss Steve Bannon, “I am so depressed.” I can’t take this”
There were no plans to stand still. He laid out a plan to get Bartiromo elected to the U.S. Senate in New York, delegissing Biden as president, and winning two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia.
The Fox News Story of the 2020 White House Rally: When Will Fox News Cover Up the Coverage of a Trump Rally Go Off Air?
On Nov 14, 2020, Lachlan Murdoch warned Suzanne Scott of the Fox’s coverage of a Trump rally.
Lachlan Murdoch said that the News guys have to be careful how they cover the rally. “So far some of the side comments are slightly anti, and they shouldn’t be. The narrative should be about the celebration of the president.
On November 16, Rupert Murdoch affirmed his interest in aiding the Republican drive to win the Senate in an email to Scott: “Trump will concede eventually and we should concentrate on Georgia, helping any way we can.”
John Vousos, the CEO of Dominion Voting Systems, said at a press conference Tuesday that Fox admitted to telling lies about his company. It’s impossible to make up for that.
The private communications of top executives were released in the case, and they revealed that they didn’t like the conspiracy theories on the air.
Fox News will not have to acknowledge on air that it told election lies about Dominion Voting Systems as part of the terms of its settlement, a representative for Dominion told CNN.
But even with these setbacks, Fox may still prevail. The verdict of a jury is not certain and must be unanimous. And Fox’s legal team is stacked with seasoned appellate attorneys who surely have their sights set on the Delaware Supreme Court, and maybe even the US Supreme Court, too.
The historic defamation case between Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems was settled in the last minute, according to court documents.
The Dominon Voting Systems Trial: A Final Scenario for a Resolution of the 2017/20/20 Election Victims’ Controversy
Your presence here was very important. And without you, the parties would not have been able to resolve their situation,” the judge told the jurors, before dismissing them.
The trial was on the verge of opening statements in Delaware when the settlement was brokered. After swearing in the jury earlier in the day, an hourlong delay stopped proceedings in court, which again caused speculation that a deal was in the works.
Dominion Voting Systems still has pending lawsuits against right-wing networks Newsmax and OAN, as well as against Trump allies Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Mike Lindell.
Fox News and its parent company Fox Corp. have struck a deal averting a trial in the blockbuster defamation suit filed by the election tech company Dominion Voting Systems over spurious claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential race.
“As much evidence as we’ve seen, there still is plenty more that hasn’t been made public. In a trial, the documents and statements that have been redacted, which are likely to constitute some of the most damning evidence against Fox, would have been revealed,” said Tom Wienner, a retired Michigan corporate litigator who has been following the case closely at NPR’s request.
Settlement always appeared as the logical resolution of the legal clash due to the statements that were clearly wrong in real time and the inflammatory arguments.
Dominion’s legal team pursued a “to the pain” strategy, intending to inflict maximum discomfort for Fox and its proprietors in order to secure as big a payout and as public an apology from Fox News as possible. For Fox and its controlling owners, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, it was worth the cost to pay for the spectacle to go away.
Suzanne Scott warned her colleagues against running fact-checking segments on election fraud, even as it gave many bogus claims acres of prime real estate.
Primetime stars Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity privately trashed the people who lied about Dominion on their network’s airwaves and yet also trashed the reporters who sought to hold them accountable for those lies.
Murdoch said that the star endorsed the lies being peddled, but he didn’t know if he was saying they endorsed them or not.
On her show Maria Bartiromo put on an attorney who was spinning conspiracy theories and misrepresenting fraud caused by a memo whose author said her own allegations were pretty wackadoodle.
The judge, known for his even-keeled demeanor on his bench, lost his calm as the trial neared, often losing his cool with Fox’s legal team.
The day before opening arguments, Davis warned Fox lawyers that he thought Murdoch had more authority over the news network’s coverage than it allowed, because he held the title “executive chairman”. Fox said that the title wasn’t very meaningful for the network’s founder. Davis asked Fox’s lawyers if he had not given other information to the court, and if Fox had lied to the court.
And Davis warned Fox attorneys “don’t make me look like an idiot,” after they asked that the 92-year-old Murdoch not be subjected to the rigors of being forced to travel to Wilmington to testify in person. Davis noted Murdoch had just announced in the gossip pages of his own New York Post the intention to split time among his four homes in Montana, Los Angeles, New York City and London with his new bride-to-be. That Murdoch called off the wedding, which was to have been his fifth, shortly after, did not appear to mitigate Davis’ irritation.
The Murdochs decided to make a stop to the bleeding. Had they not done so, Rupert would have likely been subject to questioning in court. Network executives would have been forced to pick between testifying that they had no idea that their own reporters had debunked the Trump campaign’s false claims of election fraud or that they knew but allowed stars to give them credibility in front of millions of viewers.
The network also paid the family of the slain Democratic party aide Seth Rich an undisclosed settlement worth millions of dollars just before Hannity and former Fox Business host Lou Dobbs were set to be questioned by the Riches’ attorneys under oath.
In 2017, executives at ABC and Disney breathed a sigh of relief, after settlement of a case in which the network had referred to a kind of processed beef as “pink slime.” That’s because the amount parent company Disney paid — $177 million — was a fraction of its possible $5.7 billion exposure under South Dakota law. ABC did not retract the story.
Fox News and the Murdochs: Rejiggering the Biden Decision Desk: A case study in defamation lawsuits
When it comes to defamation, says Jane Kirtley, a former executive director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, there are two elements for media outlets in deciding to settle, one immediate and one grander.
She points out that media organizations want to sidestep any chance of a judge or appellate court revisiting the very high standard of proving actual malice established in a landmark 1964 ruling. The law favors news organizations. Several Supreme Court Justices have expressed an interest in changing the standard.
The more specific concern, Kirtley says, involves a calculation: Can Fox and the Murdochs stomach a continuing parade of mortifying revelations, even if they do not affect the ultimate outcome of the trial?
On election night, Fox News’s decision desk projected that Democratic presidential nominee Biden would win the pivotal state of Arizona. Trump and his advisers worked very hard to get the network to reverse the call. The network and the Murdochs stood by it.
Anchors such as Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum complained about the blowback from Trump’s inner circle and their own viewers and asked whether such projections could take audience sentiment into account in the future.
Washington Managing Editor Bill Sammon and political director Chris Stirewalt were forced to leave their jobs due to pressure from Murdoch. Fox called Sammon’s departure a retirement and Stirewalt’s part of a larger restructuring. Both characterizations were not true.
The day after a defamation suit was filed against Fox, another voting tech company, Smartmatic, false accused Fox of participating in defrauding Trump of victory. Smartmatic has a lawsuit pending in federal court, which it claims was only active during the 2020 Los Angeles County elections. Fox said it was part of a post election rejiggering.
The journalists were laid off. The two hours of programming Fox News turned over was for talk show host Jesse Watters and comedian Greg Gutfeld. Pirro was named a co-host of the top-rated weekday show “The Five” – a promotion from her weekend hosting slot. The news show was moved to a later time of 3 p.m., and Shannon Bream to midnight.
Media Law in the High-stakes: When Howard Kurtz fought Fox to save him, and when Shepard Smith sued Fox
“In these high-stakes defamation suits,” says Rutgers law professor Ronald Chen, an authority on media law, “very often litigation is not the way for either of them to get complete satisfaction.”
There’s a winner and a loser, according to Chen. Settlement is often how both sides are able to claim some type of victory in cases where there’s a high risk.
Fox’s chief media host and correspondent, Howard Kurtz, barely touched on the case. He told the viewers he had been forbidden from covering it by his bosses.
When Baier, Fox’s chief political anchor, repeatedly pitched devoting an hour-long special to debunking myths of election fraud, executives effectively ignored him: Baier did not receive a firm response.
Anchor Shepard Smith left the network in 2019 after being attacked on the air by Carlson and receiving no public backing from Fox. Wallace left Fox in late 2021 after Carlson’s lies about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Baier had objected to Carlson’s programs about insurrectionists. Baier protested quietly. And he stuck around.
Fox News Investigated the “Golden Badge” of the Biden-Trump Era, and a Case Study of a Democratic State Legislature
Producers referred to pro-Trump guests like Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani as “gold” for ratings and acknowledged that the audience didn’t want to hear about subjects like the possibility of a peaceful transition from a Trump administration to a Biden administration.
What is the request of the company? Dominion is seeking $1.6 billion in damages. They say that Fox’s lies destroyed its reputation, and that the election officials canceled their contracts because of it. CNN recently reported on the growing distrust in voting machines in heavily Republican counties.
What are the trial logistics? The trial is expected to last five to six weeks and will be overseen by Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis, who was appointed to the state bench in 2012 by a Democratic governor. A panel of 12 jurors and 12 alternates is being seated.
There will be no video of the proceedings because cameras are not allowed in the courtroom. There will not be any still photography inside the courtroom.
Who is supposed to testify? Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and president Jay Wallace are among the expected witnesses.
Both sides are hoping to get testimony from their experts who specialize in election statistics, security of voting machines, journalism ethics, the impact of disinformation in public discourse, and more.