Explosive details have emerged in Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion lawsuit targeting Fox News, suggesting that several of the network's most popular personalities harbored doubts about election fraud claims made by former President Donald Trump and his allies, as the Associated Press reports.
A brief in support of a summary judgment motion filed by Dominion in the case this week contained internal communications from several Fox News hosts, much of which was critical of Trump's efforts to cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 election.
The headline-grabbing revelations come as a result of a lawsuit filed by Dominion – which sells electronic voting equipment and software – and Fox News and its parent entity, Fox Corporation.
In the complaint, Dominion claims that certain employees of the network knowingly touted false claims that the company had been involved in fraudulently altering vote counts in the presidential contest and also that Fox willingly served as a forum for guests to level defamatory assertions against the company.
By revealing the aforementioned internal communications, Dominion hopes to show that numerous high-profile on-air hosts were privately expressing doubts about Trump's contentions, while also advising caution due to the way in which any criticism of the former president's claims might be taken by Fox's largely conservative viewership.
As The Hill notes, attorney Sidney Powell – who repeatedly vowed to “release the Kraken” and conclusively establish widespread election fraud on behalf of Trump – was a particular target of scorn among Fox News personalities, including Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.
Dominion's filing incorporates an exchange between Carlson and Ingraham regarding the lawyer's blockbuster claims in which the host declares, “Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It's insane.” Ingraham, for her part, was said to have replied, “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy [Giuliani].”
Dominion also highlights deposition testimony from prime time host Sean Hannity, who said regarding Powell, “that whole narrative that Sidney was pushing, I did not believe it for one second.”
In addition to the aforementioned claims, Dominion claims that both Carlson and Hannity were so worried about the reaction of conservative viewers to a perceived anti-Trump tack that they called for the firing of network personalities who attempted to fact-check election fraud claims.
After correspondent Jacqui Heinrich probed some of Trump's anti-Dominion claims in detail, Carlson reportedly said to Hannity, “Please get her fired. Seriously...What the F***? I'm actually shocked.... It needs to stop immediately, like tonight. It's measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.”
In a similar vein, according to Dominion, when Fox News correspondent Kristin Fisher dug deeper into the veracity of assertions leveled by Powell and Giuliani in November 2020, she reportedly received a chastening phone call from the network's Washington Bureau Chief, who implored her to take more care when it comes to “respecting our audience.”
As The Hill notes, Dominion's success in the case will turn on whether it can prove that Fox conducted itself with “actual malice” or reckless disregard for the truth, a standard that has historically been difficult to meet when it comes to media companies and publishers.
In a counterclaim, Fox contends that Dominion's lawsuit represents an attack on the First Amendment comprised of “novel defamation theories” and was brought in order to boost the bottom line of the company's private equity owner.
“According to Dominion, FNN had a duty not to truthfully report the president's allegations but to suppress them or denounce them as false,” Fox attorneys said in their filing. “Dominion is fundamentally mistaken. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press would be illusory if the prevailing side in a public controversy could sue the press for giving a forum to the losing side.” Whether those arguments ultimately win the day, only time will tell.