Fox Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch has admitted that some Fox News commentators endorsed false claims made by Donald Trump and his allies that the 2020 presidential election was stolen – and that he didn’t try to stop them.
The claims are from a deposition unsealed on Monday, which is part of a lawsuit against the cable news giant by Dominion Voting Systems.
Denver-based Dominion sells electronic voting hardware and software and is suing Fox News Network and its parent company Fox Corp for defamation.
Dominion says that some Fox News employees deliberately amplified false claims made by Mr Trump and his allies that the company’s machines had changed votes in the election and that Fox gave them a platform to do this.
The company’s lawyers say Fox executives knew the network was airing “lies”, and that they had the power to stop it but did not.
In one deposition excerpt, Mr Murdoch is asked whether he knew some of the network’s commentators, including Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, were endorsing the false claims.
He replied: “Yes, they endorsed.”
Dominion also says the evidence shows a big gap between what was being aired and the doubts expressed by hosts privately.
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One of the channel’s most popular hosts Tucker Carlson, for example, texted on 16 November 2020 saying: “(Trump lawyer) Sidney Powell is lying” about having evidence of election fraud, according to one filing.
Mr Murdoch had expressed doubts about Dobbs, Dominion’s filing said, describing him as “an extremist” and asking that he be fired weeks before the election.
He also voiced concern about Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who was advising Mr Trump at the time.
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The media magnate described Mr Giuliani as “an extreme partisan” with “bad” judgment.
Mr Murdoch was asked if he could have requested that Mr Powell and Mr Giuliani not be allowed on air and he replied: “I could have, but I didn’t.”
Fox Corp’s lawyers have said that Mr Murdoch has testified that he never talked about Dominion or voter fraud with any of the accused hosts.
Dominion had produced “zero evidentiary support” that executives had any role in creating or publishing the statements, they added.
Meanwhile, Fox News lawyers said that Fox News aired responses from voting technology companies denying the claims made by Mr Trump and his supporters.