March 1, 2023
Rupert Murdoch has admitted that some Fox News hosts and commentators endorsed the false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen, according to testimony in an ongoing defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The Denver-based voting-machine company is suing Fox News and Fox Corp. for defamation, over false on-air claims that its technology enabled widespread fraud in the election. The new details emerged in briefs in which the companies laid out evidence they plan to present to a Delaware state court.
Murdoch, who is the chair of both Fox News and its parent, Fox Corp., said Fox News and Fox Business commentators—including on-air hosts Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs, and Sean Hannity—endorsed the idea of a stolen election to varying degrees, according to a deposition cited in Dominion’s brief, which was unsealed on Monday, February 27.
The media baron said Fox News itself didn’t endorse that narrative. “I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it, in hindsight,” Murdoch said, according to the filing. Asked if he could have stopped the hosts from highlighting allegations on air, Murdoch responded, “I could have. But I didn’t.”
In full disclosure, Murdoch is also executive chairman of News Corp, parent of The Wall Street Journal. He and his family are large shareholders in Fox Corp. and News Corp.
Dominion is suing for what it alleges were defamatory on-air comments about its products after former President Donald Trump lost the election to President Joe Biden. The voting-machine company is seeking $1.6 billion in damages.
Fox News Media has said that it simply reported newsworthy allegations, and the lawsuit would be an attack on press freedom under the First Amendment. Fox also has argued the damages claim from Dominion vastly overstates the value of the company, and that the voting company can’t tie any losses directly to the network’s coverage.
Fox News Media said in a statement Monday that Dominion’s lawsuit “has always been more about what will generate headlines than what can withstand legal and factual scrutiny.”
The trial is slated to begin April 17 in Delaware state court.
Research contact: @WSJ