The Dominion Voting Case Reveals Post-Election Fears at Fox News

The Dominion Voting Case Reveals Post-Election Fears at Fox News

NEW YORK (AP) — At Filed a case in court A panic erupted at the network against Fox News that it had alienated its audience and damaged its brand by not aligning with it. False claims by President Donald Trump That he won the 2020 presidential election.

That concern — a real one, judging by Fox’s ratings after the election — was instrumental in Fox not setting the record straight about baseless fraud claims, the network’s accuser claims.

“It’s remarkable how poor ratings force good journalists to do bad things,” said Fox Washington News executive Bill Sammon.

The details were included in a trove of private communications discovered by lawyers and included in a brief filed Thursday by Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion claimed $1.6 billion in the lawsuit That Fox aired the allegation that Dominion doctored the vote against Trump, even though it knew it was untrue. Fox said it was doing its job as a journalist by airing allegations made by Trump and his associates.

Fox’s internal troubles began with a the right call: Announcing on election night 2020 that Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump in Arizona. The announcement, which came before other news organizations, angered the president and his fans.

Feedback was noted in internal emails. “Holy cow, our audience is mad at the network,” said one quoted by Dominion. “They’re mad,” said another.

Five days after the election, Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch told Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott that the channel was “being creamed by CNN. Guess our audience doesn’t want to watch it,” according to court papers.

According to the Nielsen Company, between the November 3, 2020 election and Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021, Fox News dropped from first to third in the news network ratings. Meanwhile, thousands of Fox viewers The more conservative Newsmax flockedwhile prime-time viewership rose from 58,000 the week before the election to 568,000 the week after.

The change shook the foundations of a network that had consistently led the news ratings for the better part of two decades.

After Fox took over for Biden, he tacked more sharply to the right and regained the lead. But immediately after the election, there were real concerns at the New York headquarters.

Almost immediately, the network was “on a war footing,” Dominion said, citing Fox executives.

“Do the voters understand how much credibility and trust we have lost with our audience?” According to Dominion’s brief, Fox prime-time star Tucker Carlson wrote to its producers. “We’re playing with fire, really…an alternative like Newsmax could be devastating for us.”

Dominion claims that Fox executives decided to push false narratives to lure back their audience, and points to claims by Trump associates such as attorney Sidney Powell on programs hosted by Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs.

On November 9, Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto walked out of a news conference hosted by Trump aide Kylie McEnany when he began airing unsubstantiated allegations. A Fox executive complained that Cavuto was damaging the network’s brand.

Court filings also detailed two instances where Fox News reporters were attacked internally to verify the veracity of their tweets. In one, reporter Jackie Heinrich tweeted that there was no evidence of any voting system erasure, loss or alteration of votes.

“Please fire him,” Carlson messaged fellow anchor Sean Hannity, saying Henrik was hurting the company, according to Dominion’s filing. Heinrich’s tweet was later deleted, court papers said.

Carlson himself “tried to thread the needle,” Dominion said. It noted how he publicly told Powell Never gave evidence To back up his claims of fraud. “On the other hand, he didn’t say what he personally believed — that he was lying,” Dominion said.

Fox said many of his specific responses will come in a document that Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis ordered sealed until Feb. 27. Fox says Dominion misused the record and cherry-picked quotes taken out of context.

“A lot of noise and confusion will be created by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners, but at the heart of this case is freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights granted by the Constitution and protected by New York. Times v. Sullivan,” Fox said.

If either side can convince Davis to grant summary judgment in his favor, the case will end without a jury trial. If not, the trial is scheduled to begin in mid-April.

As a result of Sullivan and subsequent cases, such defamation cases against journalists are generally very difficult to prove, and Fox also argues that Dominion is grossly overestimating any economic loss to the company.

Ultimately, though, the case pulls back the curtain on what happened at the nation’s largest media outlet that appealed to a conservative audience at a pivotal time in the network’s and the nation’s history.

“Privately, Fox hosts and executives knew that Donald Trump had lost the election and had to concede,” Dominion argued in papers released Thursday. “But Fox viewers heard a different story — over and over again.”

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