Speed Reads

under oath

Rupert Murdoch admits some Fox News hosts 'endorsed' false election claims

In a deposition last month, News Corp. Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch stated that several Fox News hosts "endorsed" the false narrative that there was widespread voter fraud in 2020 and the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.

Murdoch was asked directly about current Fox hosts Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, and Maria Bartiromo, and former host Lou Dobbs. Dobbs endorsed the false stolen-election claims "a lot" and Hannity did so "a bit," he said. As for Fox News itself, Murdoch said the network spent the weeks after the election "trying to straddle the line between spewing conspiracy theories on one hand, yet calling out the fact that they were actually false on the other." The network was "treating it as news that the president and his lawyers were saying this," he added, though "I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it, in hindsight."

Murdoch's testimony was made public on Monday in court documents released as part of the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit filed against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems. By interviewing Trump-affiliated lawyers like Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, who pushed election conspiracies Fox knew to be false, and airing segments with false claims like Dominion voting machines were used to rig the 2020 election, Fox "gave these fictions a prominence they otherwise would never have achieved," Dominion said in its lawsuit.

The court documents also say Murdoch admitted it was "wrong" to let MyPillow founder Mike Lindell go on Tucker Carlson's show in January 2021 and make allegations against Dominion, and said he "could have" ordered Fox News shows not to book Powell or Giuliani, "but I didn't." He also sent an email to former House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Fox Corp. board member, telling him the Jan. 6 Capitol attack was "a wake-up call for Hannity, who has been privately disgusted by Trump for weeks, but was scared to lose viewers."

Fox News lawyers are arguing that the network's coverage is protected by the First Amendment, and its hosts did not endorse the false claims made by guests. In a statement on Monday, a Fox News spokeswoman said the Dominion filing offers "an extreme, unsupported view of defamation law that would prevent journalists from basic reporting."