Fox knew Trump voter fraud claims had been ‘BS,’ Dominion says

Dominion Voting Systems filed a movement for abstract judgment Thursday in its $1.6-billion defamation case in opposition to Fox News, claiming Rupert Murdoch’s community knowingly pushed a false narrative based mostly on former President Trump’s bogus claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

“From the top down, Fox knew ‘the Dominion stuff’ was ‘total bs,’” the temporary acknowledged. “Yet despite knowing the truth — or at minimum, recklessly disregarding that truth — Fox spread and endorsed these ‘outlandish voter fraud claims’ about Dominion even as it internally recognized the lies as ‘crazy,’ ‘absurd,’ and ‘shockingly reckless.’”

The movement based mostly on depositions and proof uncovered in discovery — and the response filed by Fox News — lays out the authorized showdown, which could possibly be a devastating blow to Murdoch’s empire. The doc goes into granular element to assert the community panicked over viewer response to Trump’s loss, with the reality at instances taking a again seat to concern over declining scores. It’s more likely to have an enduring adverse influence on the community’s repute even when the case doesn’t go to trial as scheduled in mid-April.

Fox maintains the corporate’s stance that its reporting on Trump’s claims — albeit false — had been nonetheless newsworthy and guarded underneath the first Amendment. In a response additionally filed Thursday, Fox News offers at size with Dominion’s worth as an organization and asserts its request for $1.6 billion in damages far exceeds the corporate’s worth and is an overreach.

Fox News will file a full response to Dominion on Feb. 27 however mentioned in an announcement: “There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners, but the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by New York Times v. Sullivan.”

Dominion’s submitting lays out a number of the behind-the-scenes feedback by Fox News executives and on-air expertise expressing their skepticism of Trump’s effort to make use of a ragtag group of legal professionals, similar to Sidney Powell, and surrogates to wage a vigorous marketing campaign to overturn his loss to President Biden. Nevertheless, the Fox personalities and managers portrayed Dominion, with none proof, as being a key participant in a rigged election by manipulating vote counts and suggesting that it was owned and managed by the Venezuelan authorities.

Fox News gave these claims life by permitting Trump and others to perpetuate them for weeks after their very own reporting and analysis decided they weren’t true. Behind the scenes its anchors and executives didn’t consider them both, however had rising issues that an indignant viewers was abandoning them.

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“[T]hat whole narrative that Sidney was pushing — I did not believe it for one second,” Fox News host Sean Hannity, a detailed pal and ardent supporter of Trump, mentioned in his deposition testimony.

In the weeks after the Nov. 8, 2020, election, proof exhibits different Fox News expertise agreed with Hannity, the movement maintains, spelling out such cases as:

“Sidney Powell is a bit nuts. Sorry but she is.” host Laura Ingraham mentioned to Hannity and Tucker Carlson on Nov. 15, 2020.

Fox News reporter Lucas Tomlinson on Dec. 1, 2020, described the fraud claims as “conspiracy theories” and “dangerously insane” to Fox News chief political correspondent Bret Baier.

An inner reality test performed by Fox News on Nov. 13 and 20, 2020, discovered there was no proof of widespread voter fraud. Baier additionally mentioned privately on Nov. 5, 2020, ‘There is NO evidence of fraud, None.”

When Maria Bartiromo posted allegations on Nov. 5, 2020, of votes being dumped, Baier told Bill Sammon, a former Fox News Washington executive, “We have to prevent this stuff…We need to fact check.”

Even Murdoch stated Trump’s claims had been false, telling Fox News Media Chairman Suzanne Scott two days earlier than the election, “if Trump becomes a sore loser we should watch Sean especially and others don’t sound the same.”

Dominion asserts that Fox News ignored the reality and peddled a false narrative as a result of it feared Trump supporter backlash over the community’s early, however in the end right, name that Biden had received the state of Arizona, placing him on observe for an electoral victory.

Fox News confronted a decline in scores after the 2020 election — commonplace when the Democratic Party wins and upsets its conservative viewers. But upstart conservative TV information rivals, similar to Newsmax, remained loyal to Trump and amplified his views, giving the dropping candidate’s sad voters some solace.

“Rival networks such as Newsmax took advantage of the opening by promoting ‘an alternative universe’ of election fraud,” the declare says. “So Fox went on ‘war footing,’ caring more about protecting its own falling viewership than about the truth.”

Based on the proof, the surge of Newsmax triggered a full-scale panic inside Fox News. Carlson expressed issues in a textual content to his producer that the voter fraud story might energize rival conservative networks.

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“Do the executives understand how much credibility and trust we’ve lost with our audience?” the textual content learn. “We’re playing with fire, for real….an alternative like Newsmax could be devastating to us.”

Dominion asserts that Fox News executives decided on Nov. 9, 2020, that it needed to act to cease its sliding scores, which had been straight correlated to anger over the Arizona election name.

Scott is quoted as telling her communications chief Irena Briganti that Sammon — who oversaw the election resolution desk making election projections — “did not understand ‘the impact to the brand and the arrogance in calling AZ,’ which she found ‘astonishing’ given that as a ‘top executive’ it was Sammon’s job ‘to protect the brand.’”

Scott contacted Fox Corp. Executive Chairman Lachlan Murdoch to agree on a plan that day to win viewers again.

Executives apparently started to push again on reporters and anchors who maintained on air that the fraud claims had been false. When Washington correspondent Jacqui Heinrich posted a fact-checking tweet that knocked down a false Trump tweet about Dominion, Carlson texted Hannity and known as for her firing.

“Please get her fired. Seriously….What the f—-? I’m actually shocked,” Carlson wrote. “It needs to stop immediately, like tonight. It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.”

The movement cites a quote from Sammon, who was fired after the election: “It’s remarkable how weak ratings make good journalists do bad things.”

In the weeks that adopted, Fox News gave ample time to press conferences with Powell and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, which Murdoch described as “really crazy stuff” and damaging.

But when then-White House correspondent Kristen Fisher fact-checked the claims by Powell and Giuliani, she obtained a name from her bosses expressing their unhappiness.

Fisher was chastised by her boss, Bryan Boughton, who mentioned “she needed to do a better job of respecting our audience,” the movement maintains.

Scott was additionally upset in regards to the report — and anchor Dana Perino’s remarks that Dominion might sue over Powell’s and Giulian’s claims. Scott mentioned in an e-mail, “The audience feels like we crapped on [them] and we have damaged their trust and belief in us…. We can fix this but we cannot smirk at our viewers any longer.”

Dominion has to show that Fox News unfold Trump’s lies with precise malice. The movement mentioned the willful dissemination of false claims was unfold by folks all through Fox News.

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“Normally defamation cases involve the state of mind of one person, or sometimes a handful, as the law only requires that one person with editorial responsibility have the requisite actual malice,” the judgment states. “Here, however, literally dozens of people with editorial responsibility — from the top of the organization to the producers of specific shows to the hosts themselves — acted with actual malice.”

Fox News asserts that Dominion believes the community “had a duty not to truthfully report the President’s allegations but to suppress them or denounce them as false. 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.”

Fox News filed a response that centered on the potential financial influence of its protection and the way the $1.6 billion in damages Dominion is searching for is a a number of of the corporate’s precise worth.

Fox News argued that the quantity Dominion is asking has “no connection” to the corporate’s monetary worth “or any supposed injury it suffered” on account of the community’s reporting.

Fox’s counterclaim mentioned Staple Street Capital Partners, a New York-based non-public fairness agency, acquired a 76.2% stake for Dominion in 2018 for $38.3 million and that the funding firm’s inner valuation of the corporate is $80 million.

“Even under the most optimistic projections, Staple Street has never estimated Dominion’s value as a business to be anywhere near $1.6 billion,” the counterclaim states.

Fox News goes on to say no single press outlet’s protection of a narrative might inflict the form of monetary harm Dominion is claiming.

“Documents produced in discovery show that Dominion is in a solid financial position, maintaining substantial cash, carrying no debt, and producing a steady return on investment to Staple Street,” the counterclaim mentioned.

Fox News additionally cites proof that none of Dominion’s clients has canceled a contract on account of its protection of Trump’s allegations.

The counterclaim cites an announcement made by Dominion’s Chief Executive and President John Poulos in December 2020 to an organization board member that the information protection of Trump’s voter fraud allegations would don’t have any impact on its enterprise. “No customer cares about the media,” he mentioned. “It’s just more words from their perspective.”