Fox News presenters dismissed Trump’s charges of election fraud as complete bullshit, court documents reveal. The remarks made by Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Tucker Carlson were exposed in a $1.6 billion defamation claim against Fox.
According to court documents in a defamation case against the network, hosts at Fox News openly promoted Donald Trump’s allegations that the 2020 election was rigged while privately mocking his assertions.
The $1.6 billion lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems, a provider of electronic voting machines and software, accuses Fox News and its parent firm Fox Corporation of defaming its reputation. The plaintiffs include Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Tucker Carlson.
In the weeks that followed the election, Hannity allegedly wrote of Trump, “He’s acting like an insane person, “while he continued to promote the alleged “big lie” on his highly rated prime time program with the help of a slew of election skeptics he had on as guests.
The lawsuit claims that even billionaire Fox owner Rupert Murdoch disregarded the false claims made by the former president, referring to them as “really crazy stuff” in a memo to a Fox News executive and criticizing Trump’s haphazard strategy of filing lawsuits in numerous states to try to overturn his defeat.
Murdoch noted that it was “extremely difficult to convincingly claim wrongdoing everywhere,” and added in a separate email that Trump’s fixation with seeking to establish fraud was “awful stuff affecting everyone.”
Meanwhile, Sidney Powell, a senior Trump attorney who frequently asserted that Dominion’s voting machines switched votes cast for Trump to votes cast for Joe Biden, was treated with contempt by Carlson, one of the network’s most prominent and contentious stars.
According to the Dominion complaint, he allegedly wrote to a producer, “Sidney Powell is lying.” In a text, he described Powell as “dangerous as hell” and an “unguided missile.”
Carlson referred to Trump as a “demonic force” who excelled at destroying things. He is without a doubt the world’s best at that. If we behave badly, he may easily destroy us.
Powell was described as “a complete crazy” by fellow host Ingraham to Carlson. She won’t get along with anyone. Likewise with Rudy,” said the former mayor of New York City and Trump supporter.
According to the lawsuit by Dominion, Hannity stated in a deposition that “I did not believe it for one second the whole narrative that Sidney was promoting.”
Additional internal correspondence showed that Fox News executives, commentators, and researchers referred to the erroneous election hypotheses they were openly advocating as “mind-blowingly insane,” “absolutely off the rails,” and “entirely Bullshit.”
All were covered in a 192-page redacted summary judgment brief that Dominion’s attorneys submitted on Thursday to the Delaware superior court. Mid-April is the expected start date for the trial.
According to the business, several Fox News staffers knowingly spread rumors that Dominion had tampered with election results in 2020 and that Fox gave visitors a stage to spread untrue and damaging allegations.
The brief claims that Fox understood “the Dominion stuff” was “complete Bullshit” from the top down.
In depositions, not a single Fox witness stated that they thought any of the accusations against Dominion were genuine. In fact, Fox witness after Fox witness either declined to affirm the veracity of the charges or genuinely expressed their disbelief in them.
The summary highlighted Powell’s insistence that Dominion voting machines were used to commit electoral fraud during an interview on Maria Bartiromo’s show in November 2020.
According to the petition, Bartiromo was aware of what Powell planned to say before the interview in part because Powell had forwarded her an email that revealed her knowledge originated from a woman who obtained it from “the wind.”
David Clark, the Fox News executive in charge of Bartiromo’s program, acknowledged in a deposition that if he had known about the “crazy” hypothesis from the email, he “would not have allowed that assertion to be aired.”
The filing also demonstrates how Hannity and others criticized their own network for calling the election for Biden early on election night, angering Trump. Carlson referred to the call as an “act of vandalism,” while Hannity emailed Carlson and Ingraham to say that the call “destroyed a brand that took 25 years to create and the harm is incalculable.”
In a counterclaim, lawyers representing the cable news network claimed that the lawsuit violated the first amendment. According to them, Dominion had put out “new defamation theories” and was requesting a “staggering” damage amount in an effort to get media attention and stifle protected speech.