Fox’s Prime-Time Hosts Completely Ignored the Dominion Settlement
Fox News agreed to pay Dominion Voting Systems $787.5 million in a last-minute settlement on Tuesday that spared the network the humiliation of a publicized defamation trial. If you get your news coverage from Fox’s prime-time stars, however, you’d have no idea it happened.
The outcome of the lawsuit was not mentioned once between the hours of 7 and 11 p.m. on Tuesday night — a block of time that includes network headliners Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity, all figures who were implicated in Dominion’s case against Fox.
Over the course of pretrial discovery, internal Fox News communications released to the public revealed the extent to which anchors and executives knew that the conspiracies about Dominion’s role in carrying out fraud in the 2020 election were false.
In text exchanges obtained by Dominion, Carlson, Hannity, and Ingraham mocked the claims being shopped out by Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, and questioned the legitimacy of their assertions against Dominion.
“Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane,” Ingraham wrote. Carlson responded that “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy,” and added his feeling that the whole circus was “unbelievably offensive to me. Our viewers are good people and they believe it.”
Despite their disbelief of Powell and Giuliani, the trio called for their co-worker, White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich, to be fired after she fact-checked a tweet from Trump that included a reference to prime-time host Hannity’s discussions of Dominion on his show.
In another text exchange, Ingraham attacked Fox News reporter Bryan Llenas for publicly stating that he’d found no evidence substantiating claims of voter fraud.
Separately, Hannity complained to Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy that efforts by some of the network’s on-air talent to fact-check election fraud claims were only serving to “piss off the base.”
So what did Fox News cover in prime time instead of the biggest settlement in the company’s history? Highlights include imagined attacks by climate activists against rice (yes, like the food), a discussion with Elon Musk about the dangers of AI and the merits of making lots of babies, and routine criticisms of the Biden administration — featuring a poorly timed chyron.
In one notable moment on ratings–grabber The Five, which did not mention the settlement, contributor Joey Jones criticized election fact-checkers as biased and complained that AI could be exploited to misinform people about political news.
The only network anchors who actually mentioned the settlement were those who have previously been criticized — and even punished by Fox — for pushing back on Trump. Daytime host Neil Cavuto, who in 2020 incurred the ire of the former president, discussed the outcome of the suit with media reporter and Fox host Howard Kurtz.
Subbing in for Bret Baier, correspondent Gillian Turner presented viewers with a segment on the suit that once again featured Kurtz. In the course of the lawsuit, viewers learned through texts introduced into evidence that Turner believed her on-air appearances had intentionally been cut down as a result of her critical coverage of the allegations of election fraud.
In a statement following the agreement, Fox indicated that the settlement “reflects Fox’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards. We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial, allows the country to move forward from these issues.”
Unfortunately, a return to journalistic standards would require the network to acknowledge that it lied to viewers about Dominion and the former president’s claims of election fraud — something Fox hasn’t prioritized in a while.
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