Fox Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch admitted that some of his Fox News hosts ‘endorsed’ false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump in his deposition for the $1.6 billion lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems.
Murdoch denied that Fox as a network endorsed the claims, but admitted a collection of his hosts shared the ‘stolen election lies’, according to a transcript of the billionaire’s sworn testimony from last month.
‘They endorsed,’ Murdoch said of hosts Jeanine Pirro, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo. He said that former host Dobbs did ‘a lot’ and Hannity did ‘a bit.’
‘I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it in hindsight,’ Murdoch added.
Dominion alleged that Fox broadcast comments made by Trump-affiliated lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani that defamed the voting company.
A Fox News spokeswoman called Dominion’s argument in the filing ‘an extreme, unsupported view of defamation law that would prevent journalists from basic reporting.’
Fox Corp’s Rupert Murdoch admitted that his Fox News hosts promoted false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump in a court deposition
‘They endorsed,’ Murdoch said of hosts Jeanine Pirro, above, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo
Fox airing a segment to counter previous remarks made by its conservative hosts and pro-Trump guests that voting software firm Smartmatic was involved in election fraud
The representative also claimed the company is ‘cherry-picking soundbites, omitting key context and mischaracterizing the record.’
In his deposition, Murdoch also said that hosts who knew they were promoting lies should be ‘reprimanded, maybe got rid of.’
He would not say that host Tucker Carlson endorsed election fraud, though he said it was ‘wrong’ for Carlson to have My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell on January 26, 2021 to make false accusations against Dominion without pushing back on them.
In a statement to DailyMail.com, a Fox spokeswoman said: ‘Dominion’s lawsuit has always been more about what will generate headlines than what can withstand legal and factual scrutiny, as illustrated by them now being forced to slash their fanciful damages demand by more than half a billion dollars after their own expert debunked its implausible claims.
‘Their summary judgment motion took an extreme, unsupported view of defamation law that would prevent journalists from basic reporting and their efforts to publicly smear FOX for covering and commenting on allegations by a sitting President of the United States should be recognized for what it is: a blatant violation of the First Amendment.’
They also pointed to an example of a Dominion’s lawyers saying it would be ‘unthinkable that any competent plaintiff’s lawyer would advise a client to sue the likes of CBS, FOX, or CNN for live transmission of the defamatory remarks uttered by, let us say, President Trump.’
In the filing released Monday, they also denied Murdoch was directly involved in the coverage of the election fraud claims.
Murdoch’s comments came as court documents revealed earlier this month showed Fox News hosts expressing doubts about the election fraud claims they were pushing to viewers.
‘Sidney Powell is lying,’ about having evidence of election fraud, Tucker Carlson told a producer about the attorney in a Nov. 16, 2020 message, according to an excerpt from an exhibit that remains under seal.
Carlson also referred to Powell in a text as an ‘unguided missile,’ and ‘dangerous as hell.’ Fellow host Laura Ingraham, meanwhile, told Carlson that Powell is ‘a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy,’ referring to former New York mayor and Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani.
Sean Hannity, meanwhile, said in a deposition ‘that whole narrative that Sidney was pushing, I did not believe it for one second,’ according to Dominion’s filing.
Denver-based Dominion, which sells electronic voting hardware and software, is suing both Fox News and parent company Fox Corporation.
Dominion said some Fox News employees deliberately amplified false claims that Dominion had changed votes in the 2020 election, and that Fox provided a platform for guests to make false and defamatory statements.
Rupert Murdoch, left, is pictured with Trump in 2016
Dominion alleged that Fox broadcast comments made by Trump-affiliated lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani that defamed the voting company
The documents unsealed today and on February 17 show that top executives and on-air hosts found the claims made by Trump’s team at the time to be dubious but aired them without a fact check anyways.
One of the various conspiracies about Dominion peddled on the network were that a secret algorithm in its machines allowed votes to be switched from one candidate to another and that the company was founded in Venezuela to help that country’s longtime leader, Hugo Chávez, fix elections.
Dominion’s newest filing also shows how former Speaker Paul Ryan, now on the board at Fox Corp., said in his deposition that he told Murdoch and his son and Fox Corp CEO Lachlan Murdoch, ‘Fox News should not be spreading conspiracy theories.’
Asked by Dominion attorney Justin Nelson whether the elder Murdoch, as chairman of the company, could have told hosts to keep Powell and Giuliani off-air, he said, ‘I could have, but I did not.’
Fox lawyers have pointed to times when their hosts did push back on fraud claims made by Powell and Giuliani.
Murdoch also admitted that he doubted the claims from the beginning.
‘I mean, we thought everything was on the up-and-up,’ he said in his deposition. ‘I think that was shown when we announced Arizona,’ referring to when Fox was the first network to call the presidential race in Arizona in favor of Joe Biden.
But Murdoch admitted he had a ‘long talk’ with his son Lachlan and Fox News executive Suzanne Scott about ‘the direction Fox should take’ after some longtime viewers turned away after the Arizona call.
Fox attorneys warn that threatening the company with a $1.6 billion judgment will cause other media outlets to think twice about what they report. They also say documents produced in the lawsuit show that Dominion has not suffered any economic harm and do not indicate that it lost any customers as the result of Fox’s election coverage.
Superior Court Judge Eric Davis is scheduled to preside over a trial beginning in mid-April, but granting summary judgment to either side would obviate the need for a jury trial that could stretch over five weeks.
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