Fox news hosts and producers privately shared misgivings about former President Donald Trump’s false claims of fraud in the 2020 election despite their networks promoting his claims, Dominion Voting Systems, an election technology company, claimed in a new court filing, the NYT reports.
The newly disclosed messages are part of a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the media giant; Dominion Voting Systems is seeking damages from Fox News over its coverage in the aftermath of the election. Hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham, as well as others, disparage Trump henchmen, including Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani in messages — casting doubt on claims that Dominion’s voting machines had rigged the presidential election in Joe Biden’s favor, according to the legal filing made public on Thursday.
The company also alleges that Fox News hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Sean Hannity gave Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani a platform to lie about the voting process.
“Fox knew,” the Dominion filing states, which cited excerpts from evidence collected in the suit. “From the top down, Fox knew ‘the Dominion stuff’ was ‘total BS.’ The filing includes text messages, internal emails, and depositions Dominion gathered via discovery from Fox News over the past few months.
On Nov. 13, per the document, Carlson texted one of his producers that Trump needed to concede “that there wasn’t enough fraud to change the outcome” of the election, and later texted that Sidney Powell, one of Trump’s lawyers, was “lying” about having evidence for election fraud.
In another text exchange a few days later, as stated in the legal filing, Carlson repeated his concerns to Ingraham, writing that “Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane.” Ms. Ingraham replied, “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy.” Carlson responded, “It’s unbelievably offensive to me. Our viewers are good people and they believe it.”
The filing also alleges that Powell told Fox employees and Maria Bartiromo that she relied on sources that made her unreliable. The suit states that before Powell’s Nov. 8 appearance on Bartiromo’s Sunday Morning Futures show, the “evidence” Powell provided to back her false accusations that the voting company manipulated the election was from an individual who described herself as “internally decapitated” and capable of “time travel in a semi-conscious state.”
Fox, in a statement to ABC News, wrote, “There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners, but the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by New York Times v. Sullivan.”
In its motion for summary judgment filed Thursday, per ABC, Fox claimed that “statements Dominion challenges are not actionable defamation because Fox News’ coverage and commentary are not only not defamatory, but also protected by the First Amendment and New York doctrines emanating from it.”
By Nov. 12, the consequences of the accusations of the voter fraud narrative sunk in. In a message that day to Carlson and Ingraham, per the filing, Hannity wrote, “In one week and one debate they destroyed a brand that took 25 years to build and the damage is incalculable.”