The $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News is the gift that keeps on giving, as a treasure trove of new documents was released today in court filings that further prove that the network was well aware that it was broadcasting lies about the 2020 election results to its audience.
The latest document dump included hundreds of pages of incriminating text messages, deposition testimony, and emails from top Fox News executives that reveal the behind-the-scenes turmoil at the network after their anointed candidate, Donald Trump, lost the election so definitively to Joe Biden.
Given that the basis of Dominion’s lawsuit is that Fox News “recklessly disregarded the truth” by presenting conspiracy theories that they were perfectly aware were not actually true because “the lies were good for Fox’s business,” this latest batch of evidence seems to make the network’s defense look even more hopeless that it was even last week when the first tranche of documents was released to the public.
One of the most damaging bits of information revealed today comes from a January deposition by the man who controls Fox News, Chairman Rupert Murdoch.
Murdoch revealed what he really thought happened in the 2020 election in this exchange with Dominion’s attorneys which is a far cry from what his network was peddling on its airwaves.
“Do you believe that Dominion was engaged in a massive and coordinated effort to steal the 2020 presidential election?” the Dominion lawyers asked the nonagenarian media mogul.
“No,” Murdoch answered.
“Have you ever seen any credible evidence to suggest that Dominion was engaged in a massive and coordinated effort to steal the 2020 presidential election?” Murdoch was further pressed.
“No,” Murdoch again replied.
“Have you ever believed that Dominion was engaged in a massive and coordinated effort to steal the 2020 presidential election?” the Dominion attorney questioned.
“No,” Murdoch admitted.
“You’ve never believed that Dominion was involved in an effort to delegitimize and destroy votes for Donald Trump, correct?” the Dominion lawyer double checked.
“I’m open to persuasion; but, no, I’ve never seen it,” Murdoch responded.
That’s quite a different message than Fox News viewers were getting from the network’s on-air talking heads who are about as far from actual journalists as one could possibly be.
Take, for instance, this response from producer John Fawcett when then-Fox Business host Lou Dobbs asked him what he thought of Sidney Powell’s lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of the election results:
“It’s complete bs,” Fawcett answered, according to the court filings. “I can’t believe that was the kraken,”
Even fabulist Tucker Carlson told one unidentified text respondent that “Sidney Powell is lying” and used an expletive to describe her.
According to CNN, the off-camera executives at Fox News were conscious of the deleterious effects of their lies on the public.
“More than a month after the 2020 election, then-Fox News DC Managing Editor Bill Sammon decried the network’s coverage of false election claims in private messages to a colleague, fearing it had become an “existential crisis” for the right-wing channel.”
“’More than 20 minutes into our flagship evening news broadcast and we’re still focused solely on supposed election fraud – a month after the election,’ Sammon wrote to then-political editor Chris Stirewalt. ‘It’s remarkable how weak ratings makes good journalists do bad things.’”
“Stirewalt replied, ‘it’s a real mess.’”
“’In my 22 years affiliated with Fox, this is the closest thing I’ve seen to an existential crisis – at least journalistically,’ Sammon said.”
“’What’s most worrisome is that there doesn’t seem to be much conflict,’ Stirewalt said.”
“’What I see us doing is losing the silent majority of viewers as we chase the nuts off a cliff,’ Sammon replied.”
Both Sammon and Stirewalt were gone from the company by early 2021.
It’s quite clear from the materials that Dominion has uncovered in their discovery process so far that Rupert Murdoch and the other Fox News executives were more concerned with audience ratings and profits than they were about presenting the news truthfully and preserving American democracy.
With legal analysts looking at the evidence that Dominion has presented so far as providing them with a slam dunk case against Fox News, the biggest question becomes whether Fox News will try to settle before allowing the case to go to trial and produce even more damning evidence against them.
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