Rupert Murdoch said in a recent deposition that he “would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing” Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 presidential election, conspiracy theories that the Fox Corp. executive chairman at once called “bulls— and damaging.”
But he admitted that some Fox hosts “endorsed” those election fraud claims.
“Not Fox, no. Not Fox. But maybe Lou Dobbs, maybe Maria, as commentators,” Murdoch said in the deposition, referring to Lou Dobbs, a former Fox News host, and Maria Bartiromo, a current one.
The revelations came in the latest public disclosures made in Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against Fox News and parent company Fox Corp. Read the filing here. Dominion contends that, in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, Fox hosts amplified claims that it was involved in rigging the results, even though many hosts and executives didn’t believe such a scenario.
Instead, Dominion argues, the hosts continued to feature guests such as Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, attorneys working for Trump’s campaign and the leading adherents to the election fraud claims.
In his deposition, according to the Dominion filing, Murdoch said that he could have told Suzanne Scott or the Fox News hosts to stop putting Giuliani on the air. “I could have. But I didn’t.”
Fox, meanwhile, contends that Dominion is engaged in an effort to “publicly smear” the media outlet for merely covering allegations made by a sitting president of the United States. (Read their filing here).
A Dominion filing earlier this month was chalk full of text messages and emails from Fox News personalities and executives, showing that they saw the election fraud claims as dubious but worried that calling them out would jeopardize their audience to conservative outlets like Newsmax.
“Dominion’s lawsuit has always been more about what will generate headliunes than what can withstand legal and factual scrutiny, as illustrated by them now being forced to slash their fanciful damages demand by more than a half billion dollars after their own expert debunked its implausible claims,” Fox said in a statement.
Fox contends that Dominion is taking an “extreme, unsupported view” of defamation law in arguing that Fox should be liable. They argued that under that interpretation, all media could be liable for reporting newsworthy allegations that reporters and editors thought were bogus. “The Washington Post could be on the hook for reporting President Trump’s allegation that President Obama was born in Kenya, since several of its editors understood that the claim was bogus,” they wrote.
The network’s attorneys wrote that if “Dominion’s view of the law were correct, then it would have a defamation claim against virtually every news outlet in the country, as everyone covered what the President and hisa lawyers and allies were alleging in the wake of the 2020 election, even though many made no secret of the fact that they doubted their claims.”
The network also said that, despite the blizzard of text messages and emails from Dominion, the election company actually admits that “most of that evidence is utterly irrelevant to the legal issues in this case.”
In the aftermath of the election, Murdoch himself told Col Allen of the New York Post that half of what Trump was saying was “bulls— and damaging,” according to Dominion’s filing.
More to come.
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