Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Wednesday 31 May 2023 Dublin: 14°C
Prensa Internacional File image of Rupert Murdoch.
# Fox News
Rupert Murdoch described Trump's stolen election claims as 'crazy', court documents show
The messages were disclosed as part of vote machine maker Dominion’s €1.5billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News.

MEDIA MOGUL RUPERT Murdoch described Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen as “crazy,” according to court documents that also threaten to embarrass Fox News’s top stars.

The 91-year-old billionaire made the comments in emails to senior Fox executives even as anchors on his conservative US network continued to give credence to Trump’s false allegations, yesterday’s filing showed.

The document also says some of Fox News’s most popular hosts, including Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, privately ridiculed top Trump advisors who were saying Joe Biden had lost the election.

The messages were disclosed as part of vote machine maker Dominion’s $1.6 billion (€1.5b) defamation lawsuit against Fox News, a cornerstone of Murdoch’s global media empire.

Dominion sued Fox News in a Delaware court in March 2021, alleging that the 24-hour news behemoth promoted Trump’s false claims that its machines were used to rig the election.

When Trump advisors Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell gave a press conference in November 2020 pushing that claim, Murdoch wrote an email to Suzanne Scott, chief executive of Fox News Media.

With the subject line, “Watching Giuliani!” Murdoch wrote: “Really crazy stuff. And damaging,” according to the filing.

On another occasion, he wrote: “Terrible stuff damaging everybody, I fear.”

The 192-page document, which contains numerous redactions, shows Murdoch regularly expressing his concern over Fox’s coverage of the election and its aftermath.

“If Trump becomes a sore loser, we should watch (host) Sean (Hannity) especially and others don’t sound the same,” he wrote to Scott three days after the election, as counting suggested Biden appeared to be heading to victory.

Dominion alleges that Fox News began endorsing Trump’s false claims because the channel was losing its audience after it became the first TV outlet to call Arizona for Biden, projecting he would win the presidency.

“Getting creamed by CNN! Guess our viewers don’t want to watch it,” Murdoch wrote to Scott the next day, on 8 November, 2020.

Defamation case

Dominion was forced to repeatedly defend its reputation, as Giuliani and Powell pushed more outlandish allegations, including that the machines had been designed to rig elections for dead Venezuelan dictator Hugh Chavez.

The documents allege that Carlson told Ingraham that Powell “is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane.”

Ingraham responded by saying, “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy.”

“Rudy is acting like an insane person,” said Hannity.

A spokesperson for Fox News said Dominion had “mischaracterized the record” and “cherry-picked quotes stripped of key context.”

“There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners,” Fox News said in a statement.

“But the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution.”

The case risks inflicting significant financial and reputational damage on Fox News, but it can be difficult for plaintiffs to win defamation suits in America due to the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.

Dominion will have to prove that Fox News acted with actual malice, a tough burden to meet. The case could go to a civil trial if the parties do not settle.

The vote machine maker has also sued Giuliani and Powell.

© AFP 2023 

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment

    Leave a commentcancel