Rupert Murdoch acknowledged that top Fox News hosts “endorsed” on-air what they knew to be a false narrative – that the 2020 election was stolen – according to his testimony from a deposition revealed Monday.
Murdoch gave the sworn statement last month in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox. Parts of his deposition were included in a plaintiffs’ Monday filing in Delaware Superior Court.
Murdoch’s testimony essentially corroborates what Dominion asserted in a detailed filing earlier this month: That top hosts, including Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Jeanine Pirro and Maria Bartiromo were privately horrified that their network was pushing Donald Trump’s “stolen election” narrative – but went on-air with it anyway.
“I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it in hindsight,” Murdoch said, according to the filing.
Fox remained steadfast in denying it had defamed Dominion in a Monday statement: “Their summary judgment motion took an extreme, unsupported view of defamation law that would prevent journalists from basic reporting and their efforts to publicly smear FOX for covering and commenting on allegations by a sitting President of the United States should be recognized for what it is: a blatant violation of the First Amendment.”
The Monday documents revealed that top executives also reacted adversely to various Dominion conspiracy theories, including that a secret algorithm in its voting machines allowed ballots to be switched, and that the company was founded in Venezuela to help former president Hugo Chávez fix elections.
“Executives at all levels of Fox … knowingly opened Fox’s airwaves to false conspiracy theories about Dominion,” the filing states.
Murdoch also said in his testimony that it was wrong for Fox hosts to “endorse” lies if they knew them not to be true: “Fox has a role in making sure people can agree on a basic set of facts,” he said. “Yes. We broadcast the facts. We hope people believe what we are broadcasting.”
The filing, Dominion’s formal response to Fox’s earlier motion for a summary dismissal, did not include the entirety of Murdoch’s deposition testimony. But it fully excerpted one section that name-checked nearly his entire primetime lineup:
“Q (Plaintiffs Lawyer): You are aware now that Fox did more than simply host these guests and give them a platform, correct?”
A (Murdoch): I think you’ve shown me some material in support of that.
Q: In fact, you are now aware that Fox endorsed at times this false notion of a stolen election?
A: Not Fox, no. Not Fox. But maybe Lou Dobbs, maybe Maria, as commentators.
Q: We went through Fox hosts Maria Bartiromo, yes?
A: Yes. C’mon
Q: Fox host Jeanine Pirro?
A: I think so.
Q: Fox Business host Lou Dobbs?
A: Oh, a lot.
Q: Fox host Sean Hannity?
A: A bit.
Q: All were in that document, correct?
A: Yes, they were.
Q: About Fox endorsing the narrative of a stolen election, correct?
A: No. Some of our commentators were endorsing it.
Q: About their endorsement of a stolen election?
A: Yes. They endorsed.”
Dominion is demanding a jury trial. With both sides still in the discovery phase, no date has yet been set.