Here is the crux to the defamation suit against Fox News by voting machines company Dominion, as relayed Wednesday by Washington Post liberal Greg Sargent: “On the air, some of those [Fox News] personalities kept doling out what they privately admitted were lies.”
The idea is that Fox News people were knowingly telling their audiences lies that made Dominion, which administers software that tabulated election votes, look bad.
That claim by Dominion, gleefully parroted by Sargent and others in the media, is so far not borne out by the publicly available facts. That is to say, it’s a lie.
Interest in the defamation lawsuit among Fox critics (i.e., The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, and the rest) revived this week with another round of Dominion disclosures to the public containing depositions and private text communications among Fox executives, news reporters, and primetime hosts.
What they show is: Fox primetime hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham were aggravated with colleagues on the news side for eagerly calling the election for Biden and Trump associates for eagerly doubting the results; Fox executives fretting about the fallout of the 2020 election, which was detrimental to ratings; and Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch musing to executives about Donald Trump’s post-election grievances and what they would mean for the company.
It’s all of great interest to Fox competitors, who are rationally kicking up as much dirt as possible on the controversy in order to take the network down a peg. That’s showbiz, baby.
But for anyone actually curious about the merits of the lawsuit, the most important bit of information uncovered by Dominion was a text exchange between Fox Business Network host Maria Bartiromo, a Trump backer, and former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon.
Here was that post-election back-and-forth via Axios:
Separately, Fox News host Maria Bartiromo said in text messages with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon that she was “so depressed,” per the court documents.
“I can’t take this,” she said. “I want to see massive fraud exposed. Will [Trump] be able to turn this around? I told my team we are not allowed to say pres elect at all. Not in scripts or in banners on air. Until this moves through the courts.”
Bannon replied saying, “You are our fighter. Enough with the sad! We need u.”
It demonstrates the exact opposite of Dominion’s claim — that Fox people who perpetuated claims of mass voter fraud knew that the allegations were unfounded. What Bartiromo is saying in that text is that she believes there was something afoul, to the point that it depressed her mood. She even pleaded for Bannon to offer some assurance that Trump would prevail in proving election impropriety. (Also note that she did not say anything about Dominion or manipulated voting machines in that text.)
Thinking happy thoughts won’t give you the ability to fly. But genuine belief in a fairy tale isn’t the same thing as willful dishonesty.
True, there were executives and other hosts who privately expressed complete disbelief or at least doubt on allegations against Dominion led by Trump’s legal team. But as far as the publicly available evidence goes, none of those people with disbelief and doubts were the ones to say otherwise on Fox’s airtime.
It’s important to remember that the Dominion lawsuit relates to the days and weeks immediately after the 2020 election when a sitting president’s legal advisers were publicly asserting that illegality took place and when Trump’s team was actively engaged in legal proceedings. It’s not as if Fox anchors woke up on Jan. 21, 2021, and in unison, began calling Dominion a corrupt company that swerved the election. All of this happened while Trump was legally contesting the results, as was his right. And it was the public’s right to know what was happening.
The anti-Fox media know all of this is true. Ironically (if predictably), they’re lying about it in spite of knowing it.