The latest court documents provide damning proof of News Corp’s intentional malice and mendacity, as Alan Austin reports.
*Also listen to the audio version of this article on Spotify HERE.
NEWS CORP CEO Rupert Murdoch has just had the worst week of his professional life since the phone hacking scandals shut down his British newspaper, News of the World, in 2011.
The latest revelations of malignant misconduct involve his American cable TV station, Fox News. Executives and “news” anchors have just revealed to the world that they deliberately deceive the three million-plus viewers they grift for their income.
Messages they feed their deluded viewers include:
- America is a great nation of and for White Christians;
- minorities, including LGBTQ people, women, and folks of other colours and faiths should know their place and hold their tongues;
- Donald Trump was an outstanding White nationalist leader;
- before that, Trump was a successful businessman;
- Trump resoundingly won the 2020 Presidential Election;
- the Election was stolen from Trump via two nasty corporations; and
- the Republican Party comprises stalwart patriots, while the Democrats are woke, liberal traitors.
Court filings released last week show that most Fox anchors and executives know these messages are the opposite of the truth.
Voting machine manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems is suing Fox Corporation for defamation after allegations that its machines flipped Trump votes to Biden votes in the 2020 Election. Fox responded that they were merely reporting “newsworthy” allegations made by a sitting President and are protected by free speech rules. The trial is scheduled for April.
Falsifying Joe Biden’s victory
Court filings released last week reveal that on Election night, 3 November 2020, Fox was the first broadcaster to call Arizona for Biden, signalling Biden had won. This triggered an immediate backlash from Trump’s team and angry viewers. Within an hour of the Arizona announcement, Fox Senior Vice President Raj Shah sent an email to colleagues noting: ‘Lots of conservative criticism of the AZ call.’ Heated internal debate followed, with “journalist” Bret Baier urging Arizona be ‘put back in [Trump’s] column’.
Fox anchors Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity expressed anger at the prospect of losing viewers if Fox reported Biden’s victory truthfully.
Carlson told his producer, Alex Pfeiffer:
‘We worked really hard to build what we have. Those fuckers are destroying our credibility. It enrages me.’
‘It’s a hard needle to thread, but I really think many on “our side” are being reckless demagogues right now.’
This was in reference to Fox journalists reporting the election results accurately.
‘Of course they are. We’re not going to follow them. What Trump is good at is destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.’
Producer Robert Samuel defended reporting the outcome truthfully:
‘...gotta be super careful on any allegations since people can say you’re pushing that American democratic system can’t be trusted. Just have to be 1,000 per cent sure and very careful.’
Samuel was overruled. The decision was taken to falsify the outcome in order to retain viewers who were threatening to switch to other fact-denying channels.
That night, 5 November, Sean Hannity told his audience that “it will be impossible to ever know the true, fair, accurate election results. That’s a fact”.
Real beliefs about voting machines
The court documents disclose text exchanges between Fox anchors on 16 November.
‘What are we all going to do tmrw night?’ Laura Ingraham asked. Tucker Carlson replied that he planned to feature Trump’s lawyer, Sidney Powell, who was blaming the stolen election on voting machines, which Carlson knew was nonsense.
‘The whole thing seems insane to me,’ Carlson said, ‘...and Sidney Powell won’t release the evidence. Which I hate. She is making everyone paranoid and crazy, including me’.
Rupert Murdoch is quoted describing Powell’s claims as “really crazy stuff”.
Asked if he could have stopped producers and hosts from giving liars a platform, Murdoch said:
“I could have, but I do not run Fox News that way. I appointed [CEO] Ms Scott to the job and I delegate everything to her.”
On 21 November, Carlson texted that it was ‘shockingly reckless’ to claim Dominion rigged the election:
If there’s no one inside the company willing to talk, or internal Dominion documents or copies of the software showing that they did it.
As you know, there isn’t.
Real beliefs about Trump’s incompetence
On 4 January 2021, Carlson texted colleagues:
We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for [Trump’s presidency], because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest. But come on. There really isn’t an upside to Trump.
We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait.
One producer replied: ‘I want nothing more.’
Carlson responded: ‘I hate him passionately.’
The lies go on and on
Despite knowing full well that Trump lost the Election and is unfit to serve, Fox anchors and executives continued to spread the lies.
Carlson is now pandering to a fresh far-Right conspiracy theory: Those who invaded the Capitol on 6 January 2021 were peaceful tourists who have wrongfully been portrayed as insurrectionists by the wicked liberal media.
He said last Monday:
“The protesters were angry. They believed that the election they had just voted in had been unfairly conducted and they were right. In retrospect, it is clear the 2020 Election was a grave betrayal of American democracy.”
Even if the defamation judgments achieve the payouts sought – $1.6 billion (A$2.4 billion) by Dominion and $2.7 billion (A$4.1 billion) by Smartmatic – this will not shut Fox down.
Revenues will continue to flow because most viewers will have no idea of anything amiss. They won’t know Rupert Murdoch admits to routine fabrication of “news”. They won’t know Carlson and the other anchors hold them in contempt by lying to them most nights. Fox will tell them none of these things.
Ending this destructive organisation requires a concerted campaign of boycotts in every country in which it operates.
*This article is also available on audio here:
Alan Austin is an Independent Australia columnist and freelance journalist. You can follow him on Twitter @alanaustin001.
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