Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch has acknowledged that some Fox News commentators have backed false claims by Donald Trump and his allies that the 2020 presidential election was stolen — and he’s not trying to stop them.
The claims come from testimony made public Monday as part of a lawsuit Dominion Voting Systems filed against the cable news giant.
Denver-based Dominion, which sells electronic voting hardware and software, is suing Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corporation, for defamation.
Dominion said some Fox News employees deliberately amplified false claims by Trump and his allies that the company’s machines changed votes in the election, and that Fox gave them the platform to do so.
Fox executives knew the network was spreading “lies” and they had the power to stop it, but they didn’t, the company’s lawyers said.
In an excerpt from his testimony, Mr Murdoch was asked if he knew some of the network’s commentators, including Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, were backing the false claims.
He replied: “Yes, they approved.”
Dominion also said the evidence showed a wide gap between what was broadcast and the skepticism the hosts expressed privately.
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For example, one of the channel’s most popular hosts, Tucker Carlson, texted on November 16, 2020, “(Trump lawyer) Sidney Powell (Sidney Powell) is lying,” claiming to have evidence of election fraud.
The Dominion filing said Mr Murdoch had expressed doubts about Dobbs, describing him as an “extremist” and calling for his sacking weeks before the election.
He also expressed concern about former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was advising Trump at the time.
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The media mogul described Mr Giuliani as an “extreme partisan” with “poor” judgment.
Asked if he could ask Mr Powell and Mr Giuliani not to be allowed to air, Mr Murdoch replied: “I could, but I haven’t.”
Lawyers for Fox said Mr Murdoch testified that he never spoke to any of the accused hosts about Dominion or voter fraud.
They added that Dominion provided “zero supporting evidence” that executives played any role in creating or issuing the statement.
Fox News, meanwhile, aired a response from the voting tech company denying claims by Trump and his supporters, lawyers for Fox News said.