While Fox News guests and anchors presented former President Trump’s false allegations that voter fraud led to his loss in the 2020 election, network boss Rupert Murdoch didn’t believe a word of it.
Deposition testimony released Tuesday showed Murdoch, the chairman of Fox Corp., did not buy into any of the theories pushed by Trump’s legal representatives and surrogates on his conservative news network.
Fox News is being sued by Dominion Voting Systems in a $1.6-billion defamation suit that alleges the network deliberately lied about fraud claims to boost its ratings. Murdoch was deposed in the case Jan. 19.
A transcript showed that when Murdoch was asked by Justin Nelson, one of Dominion’s attorneys, if “the 2020 election was not free and fair” the mogul’s answer was, “No.”
“Do you believe that Joe Biden was legitimately elected president of the United States?” Nelson asked.
Murdoch said yes.
“It’s incorrect that the election was stolen from President Trump; correct?”
“It was not stolen,” Murdoch replied.
“Do you believe President Trump was a sore loser?”
“Yes,” Murdoch replied.
Murdoch gave the same negative response when asked about the various charges made against Dominion by guests and anchors who appeared on Fox News.
Dominion was wrongly accused by Trump’s team of using its machines to manipulate votes to throw the election to Joe Biden. Trump representatives also said without evidence that the Denver-based voting machine maker was controlled by the Venezuelan government.
Fox News maintains that its reporting and commentary was protected by the 1st Amendment because allegations presented by a sitting president are newsworthy, even if false.
Dominion will have to prove to a Delaware court that Fox News acted with malice by recklessly disregarding the truth in reporting on Trump’s claims and the false allegations against Dominion.
Dominion’s motion for summary judgment — which cites deposition testimony and internal communications at Fox News — notes how executives, producers and anchors raised concerns about what Trump-supporting guests and anchors such as Maria Bartiromo, Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro and former Fox Business Network anchor Lou Dobbs were saying about the false claims.
In his deposition, Murdoch admitted that Dobbs, Bartiromo and other hosts fueled the unsupported allegations against Dominion.
Many described statements by Trump’s lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani as “nuts” and “crazy.”
But they continued to appear on the network to promote falsehoods in the weeks leading up to the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, when Trump supporters attempted to stop the electoral vote count.
In his depositions, Murdoch acknowledged that he had the power to keep Giuliani and Powell from appearing on Fox News, but he chose not to. Murdoch said that he was mindful of antagonizing Trump-supporting Fox News viewers who were angry over the result of the election. Fox News was the first network on election night to call Arizona for Joe Biden.
Trump “had a very large following, and they were probably mostly viewers of Fox, so it would have been stupid,” Murdoch said in his testimony.
A jury trial is set for April 17.