Fox execs, pundits knew it was a Big Lie. But they were trying to save their careers.
Justin Wells, Tucker Carlson's gay executive producer, called Jeanine Pirro "crazy" for promoting election denial. But he and Carlson soon embraced it, fearful of Newsmax destroying the network.
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In a bombshell court filing in the Dominion Voting Systems defamation case against Fox News filled with text messages, emails, testimony and other communications among Fox executive and pundits, one thing is clear: They all knew Donald Trump’s claims of fraud were a complete and total lie — and that the lies were dangerous to democracy — even characterizing Trump’s attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani as out of their minds.
But in the end they would embrace it, fearful of Fox News being overtaken by Newsmax, ruining the network and their own MAGA-fueled careers.
The hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, as well as others at the company, repeatedly insulted and mocked Trump advisers, including Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani, in text messages with each other in the weeks after the election, according to a legal filing on Thursday by Dominion Voting Systems…
…“Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane,” Mr. Carlson wrote to Ms. Ingraham on Nov. 18, 2020.
Ms. Ingraham responded: “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy.”
Mr. Carlson continued, “Our viewers are good people and they believe it,” he added, making clear that he did not.
The messages also show that such doubts extended to the highest levels of the Fox Corporation, with Rupert Murdoch, its chairman, calling Mr. Trump’s voter fraud claims “really crazy stuff.”
On one occasion, as Mr. Murdoch watched Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell on television, he told Suzanne Scott, chief executive of Fox News Media, “Terrible stuff damaging everybody, I fear.”
Yes, they believed it was reckless and harmed democracy.
And at first they were attempting to stand against it — Fox, you’ll recall, was the first network to call Arizona for Joe Biden — and tamp down voices on the network who were promoting election denial.
Tucker Carlson believed it was “shockingly reckless” to claim that Dominion had rigged the election.
Executive David Cooper canceled the often unhinged Jeanine Pirro’s show on November 7th because he thought she was auditioning for Newsmax. As he told Fox Business President Laurie Pettersen in a text, Pirro “was angling for a job somewhere else, 100%.”
Justin Wells, Carlson’s executive producer and Fox Vice President of Tucker Carlson Digital Product — who, back in November I reported was openly gay and responsible for promoting Carlson’s anti-LGBTQ hate — stated, “ They took her off cuz she was being crazy. Optics [of canceling her show] are bad. But she is crazy.” Wells also stated that, “Sydney Powell and Rudy are fucking liars” and called them “desperate” and “deranged.”
Fox executives and many Fox pundits were so worried about election denial early on that Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch suggested having Carlson, Hannity, and Ingraham appear together in prime time to state that Joe Biden was rightfully the winner of the election.
That action — which of course, never happened — Murdoch believed, “Would go a long way to stop the Trump myth that the election stolen.”
From the court filing:
Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity immediately understood the threat to them personally. Carlson wrote his producer Alex Pfeiffer: “We worked really hard to build what we have. Those fuckers are destroying out credibility. It enrages me.”
Never mind the hilarity of Carlson claiming he and Fox have “credibility.” What he means, of course, is that the cult believed their propaganda previously, but now they were being challenged by people who are even further unhinged. The statement shows that first and foremost in his mind is preserving, above all costs, his and others’ careers.
And that’s why, after Trump began skewering Fox News and their ratings took a hit, Carlson, the other pundits and the executives would do a complete about face. As CNN reports:
Trump attacked Fox News and encouraged his followers to switch to Newsmax. And, in the days and weeks after the presidential contest had been called, they did just that. Fox News shed a chunk of its audience while Newsmax gained significant viewership.
In multiple instances, Fox News executives and hosts expressed worry over the matter and started to crack down on those at the network who fact-checked election lies. In one case, after White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich fact-checked a Trump tweet pushing election fraud, Carlson said he wanted her fired.
Yep. Carlson went from attacking the election deniers as “shockingly reckless” to calling for the firing of someone who challenged Trump’s election denial.
“Please get her fired,” Carlson told Hannity in a text. “Seriously … what the f**k? I’m actually shocked … It needs to stop immediately, like tonight. It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.”
Hannity replied that he had already sent a text to Suzanne Scott, the network’s chief executive: “already sent to Suzanne with a really?” Scott expressed her concerns to another executive over Heinrich’s fact-checking tweets, stating “she has serious nerve doing this” and that the “viewers are going to be further disgusted.”
The next morning, Heinrich’s tweet had been deleted.
Fox News executives soon spoke about anyone on the network who was challenging election denial — even when Fox Business anchor Neil Cavuto cut away from a Trump White House briefing on voter fraud — as a “brand threat.” One executive exchanged texts with Lachlan Murdoch, the Fox Corporation chief executive, about a plan to get back the viewers they’d lost to Newsmax.
He said Fox would “highlight our stars and plant flags letting the viewers know we hear them and respect them”— clearly allowing the viewers to decide the news they wanted to hear rather than reporting any truth to them. Murdoch replied that the brand needed “rebuilding without any missteps.” As CNN notes, “soon after, Fox News debuted a new “standing up for what’s right” marketing campaign featuring the network’s top stars.”
Meanwhile, Fox executives and pundits still privately mocked the voter fraud lie, and derided Trump’s legal team.
There’s so much more, and it’s worth reading the entire filing. I focused in here on Justin Wells, Carlson’s gay executive producer and vice president, to show how powerful he is at Fox, and the enormous influence he has with Tucker Carlson, whose show he executes and oversees. And to point out just how corrupt and depraved he and the rest of these people are.
Wells, as I wrote in November, is an openly gay men who helped Carlson push the “groomer” smear about LGBTQ people and launch attacks on drag queens and trans people — the kind of hate that leads to violence, such as what we saw at Club Q in Colorado Springs — even though he knows it’s all a lie, himself being openly gay and having gone to gay nightclubs — yes, with drag performers — in Miami Beach. But it’s all about the money, no matter the truth.
This court filing in the Dominion case is further damning evidence of that. These greedy propagandists are concerned only with their own careers, no matter who or what dies, including democracy itself.