By David Bauder and Jennifer Peltz | Associated press
NEW YORK – Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch has sworn that he believes the 2020 presidential election was free, fair and not robbed, according to court documents released Tuesday in the defamation lawsuit. a voting machine company regarding Fox News’ coverage of former President Donald Trump. false allegations of electoral fraud.
During an examination under oath in January by attorneys from Dominion Voting Systems, Murdoch was asked: “Do you think the 2020 presidential election was free and fair?”
“Yes,” he replied, according to a transcript.
“The election was not stolen,” he said later.
The transcript and other documents released Tuesday expand on earlier disclosures that paint a picture of behind-the-scenes doubt — or outright dismissal — of Trump’s voter fraud allegations, even though the network gave them airtime. In excerpts from Murdoch’s interrogation released earlier, he acknowledged that he had failed to stop various Fox News commentators from promoting baseless claims by Trump allies that the election was stolen, even if he could have.
He also acknowledged that some of the network’s hosts — Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro and Sean Hannity — sometimes endorsed the false claims.
Dominion is suing Fox News for $1.6 billion, claiming the network crippled the company’s business by broadcasting false claims from Trump’s lawyers that Dominion changed votes in the 2020 election.
Fox says Dominion is making up its lost business claims and chose handpicked and twisted remarks by Fox hosts and executives to paint a picture of a company that pushed the truth aside to retain its audience.
“Dominion has been caught in the act of using more distortion and misinformation in its public relations campaign to smear Fox News and trample free speech and freedom of the press,” the company said in a statement. Tuesday, complaining that “to twist and even misattribute citations to the highest levels of our company is truly beyond pale.
Federal and state election officials, exhaustive reviews in battleground states, and Trump’s attorney general found no widespread fraud that could have changed the outcome of the 2020 election. credible evidence that the vote was tainted. Trump’s fraud allegations have also been flatly dismissed by dozens of courts, including judges he appointed.
When questioned, Murdoch said he doubted massive fraud had occurred and said then-Attorney General William Barr’s statement on December 1, 2020 that there was no voter fraud important “just closed it for me”.
Murdoch even worried about Trump, telling a friend in an email that the Commander-in-Chief “apparently isn’t sleeping and bouncing off walls!”
“The real danger is what he might do as president,” Murdoch added in the post, as he recalled during questioning.
Still, Murdoch defended his network’s coverage of Trump’s fraud allegations, even as he lamented them privately.
“That was big news,” Murdoch said. “The President of the United States was making outlandish claims, but that’s news.”
He admitted to blocking some guests from appearing on Fox News and even interjected with on-air talent. He excluded Trump adviser Steve Bannon, he admitted, because “I just see him as a fringe figure.” Murdoch pointedly said he didn’t watch Dobbs’ show on Fox Business News and resisted Trump’s pleas to move Dobbs to the most-watched major news channel.
Some of the network’s biggest stars have also privately expressed disbelief at the claims made by Trump allies, but aired them anyway. “Sydney Powell is lying,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson said in a text to a producer, referring to one of the lawyers arguing Trump’s claims. Host Laura Ingraham texted Carlson saying Powell was “a complete lunatic”.
Murdoch called her a “crazy budding lawyer” in another email to a friend, he told Dominion attorneys.
The latest material in the Dominion case came as another voting tech company suing Fox News formed a new focus on Murdoch and the Fox Corp CEO. Lachlan Murdoch, saying they played a leading role in spreading false claims that the company’s technology helped “steal” Trump’s 2020 presidential election.
The company, Smartmatic, said in a filing on Monday that the Murdochs, as the ultimate authorities of the network’s parent company, “were central to the decision to cover up and facilitate the disinformation campaign published by Fox News after the 2020 U.S. Elections”.
Fox News and Fox Corp. did not immediately comment on Smartmatic’s claims, which came after a New York appeals court dismissed Fox Corp. of the trial but let him sue the news network, as well as Bartiromo, Pirro and Dobbs. Smartmatic’s new filing reaffirms the claims against Fox Corp., supporting them with the new allegations against its top executives, the Murdochs.
As in the Dominion case, Fox News responded to Smartmatic’s lawsuit saying it was only reporting newsworthy claims made by the president and his attorneys. The network notes that its hosts sometimes asked lawyers for evidence to support their claims, which was never provided.
After Smartmatic demanded a retraction, Fox News conducted an interview with an election tech expert who dismissed the fraud allegations.
Like Dominion, Smartmatic argues that Fox News backed the fake voter fraud narrative to win back pro-Trump viewers who turned to rival conservative outlets after Fox rightly said on election night that Biden had won. arizona.
Associated Press writers Christina A. Cassidy in Atlanta; Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix; Gary Fields in Washington, D.C.; and Nicholas Riccardi in Denver contributed to this report.