Boy, Those Fox News Texts, I Don't Know
This morning, Evan brought you a whole bunch of excerpts from the great big legal filing by Dominion Voting Systems in its defamation suit against Fox News, which spread bullshit conspiracy theories about Dominion voting machines flipping votes, even though most Fox hosts privately said in texts and emails that they knew Joe Biden won the 2020 election and thought the people pushing the lies about Dominion were nuts. For the sake of brevity and hilarity, Evan focused on some samples from Tucker Carlson, who called the fraud claims "ludicrous" and "totally off the rails" but continued spreading them all the same, because what if Fox's stock price dropped and he lost money?
But of course, it wasn't just Tucker; it seems like almost everyone at Fox News thought the conspiracy crap was crap, whether they were in front of or behind the cameras. But by golly, after the Trump crowd started watching Newsmax to punish Fox for calling Arizona for Biden on election night, Fox decided to go all in on the crazy stuff too. So let's take a peek at what some other muthafoxers were saying about the very people and lies they were pushing at their viewers, shall we?
On Competing With Newsmax:
Fox News President Jay Wallace, November 10: "The Newsmax surge is a bit troubling — truly is an alternative universe when you watch, but it can’t be ignored."
Host Dana Dana Perino to GOP strategist Colin Reed, November 11:
[T]here is this RAGING issue about fox losing tons of viewers and many watching — get this — newsmax! Our viewers are so mad about the election calls (as if our calls would have been any different. It's just votes!) So this day of reckoning was going to come at some point where the embrace of Trump became an albatross we can't shake right away if ever.
Rupert Murdoch Himself, November 16:
These people should be watched, if skeptically. Trump will concede eventually and we should concentrate on Georgia, helping any way we can. We don't want to antagonize Trump further, but Giuliani taken with a large grain of salt. Everything at stake here.
Sean Hannity, to Carlson and Laura Ingraham, November 12: "In one week and one debate they destroyed a brand that took 25 years to build and the damage is incalculable."
Fox Senior VP Ron Mitchell, November 18, on Newsmax's lack of standards:
[T]he lack of any meaningful editorial guidance may be a positive for them at least in the short term. For example, last night on Stitchfield (who?) at 8 pm, the show sourced websites like Gateway Pundit while talking about voter fraud. This type of conspiratorial reporting might be exactly what the disgruntled FNC viewer is looking for.
Gosh, and look what happened!
On Rudy Giuliani:
Sean Hannity, November 11: "Rudy is acting like an insane person."
Hannity again, December 22: "F'ing lunatics"
Laura Ingraham, November 12: "Rudy such an idiot"
Anne McCarton, "Lou Dobbs Tonight" producer, November 18: "Keeping in mind his insanity lately..."
Rupert Murdoch, on Rudy's face-melting presser, November 19: Email subject line: "Watching Giuliani! Text: Really crazy stuff. And damaging."
Fox Business executive Gary Schreier, November 22: "She [Jenna Ellis] sounds downright sane next to Rudy."
John Fawcett, Lou Dobbs Tonight producer, January 3, 2021: "Giuliani so full of shit"
On Accurate Reporting:
Fox executives also began to criticize Fox hosts for truthful reporting. On November 9, Fox anchor Neil Cavuto cut away from a White House Press Conference when Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany began making unsubstantiated allegations about election fraud. As Cavuto told viewers, "Whoa, whoa, whoa She's charging the other side as welcoming fraud and illegal voting, unless she has more details to back that up, I can't in good countenance continue to show you this" and "that's an explosive charge to make." [...] The brand team led by Raj Shah at Fox Corporation notified senior Fox News and Fox Corporation leadership of the "Brand Threat" posed by Cavuto's action.
Raj Shah, it's worth noting, had previously been Sarah Huckabee Sanders's deputy press secretary in the Trump White House, and before that was an oppo researcher for the Republican National Committee. Whose brand was he worried about?
Fox also carried the Rudy is Melting presser in full, without cutting away, but the filing notes that when then White House correspondent Kristen Fischer factchecked the crazy shit Giuliani and Powell were saying,
Fox's executives were not pleased. [...] Fisher received a call from her boss, Bryan Boughton, immediately after in which he "emphasized that higher-ups at Fox News were also unhappy with it," and that Fisher "needed to do a better job of... — this is a quote — 'respecting our audience.'" [...]
Fox anchor Dana Perino noted that the claims at the press conference could be enough to prompt Dominion to sue. [...] This comment resulted in [Fox News CEO Suzanne] Scott screaming about Dana's show and their reaction to the Rudy presser. [...] Scott explained in an email regarding both Perino and Fisher's coverage, "[Y]ou can't give the crazies an inch right now ... they are looking for and blowing up all appearances of disrespect to the audience." [...] Scott separately noted, "The audience feels like we crapped on [them] and we have damaged their trust and belief in us. [...] We can fix this but we cannot smirk at our viewers any longer."
The higher-ups at Fox thought it was all completely insane, and mocked the stuff that their viewers thought was proof that Biden had stolen the election:
Fox Executive Ron Mitchell commented: "I'm not mad at either of them. I'm mad at those clowns at the conference who put us in a terrible place." [...] That afternoon, Mitchell asked [Laura Ingraham's producer Tommy] Firth: "Will you be mentioning the international crime conspiracy to steal the election featuring Soros, Maduro, Chavez, Antifa, Cuba, and China?" [...] Firth responded: "Haha nope — basically want to wrangle the argument away from the crazy that was today — it's easy to dismiss legitimate complaints when you can lump them in with the circus." Mitchell responded: "Yes. But those clowns put us [in] an awkward place where we're going to need to thread the needle."
And that's how you make real serious news, Charlie Brown!
On Sidney Powell:
Oh dear. There's just so much!
Carlson to Ingraham, November 18: "Sidney Powell is lying, by the way. I caught her. It's insane."
Ingraham replied, "Sidney is a complete nut No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy."
Raj Shah, November 22: "shit is so crazy right now. so many people openly denying the obvious that Powell is clearly full of it."
Alex Pfeiffer, Carlson's producer, in reply: "She is a fucking nutcase"
Fox Senior VP Bill Sammon, on coverage of Powell, December 2: "It's remarkable how weak ratings make good journalists do bad things."
Well heck, and we didn't even get to the headless time-traveling ghost who had a dream — or was one — and then emailed Sidney Powell about how Dominion was flipping votes. Just like us to ignore the headless time-traveling spirit entity in the room like that.
In conclusion, Fox News is a very fine network that had very good reasons for all the lying its hosts did: It's their business model, have a nice day.
[Dominion v. Fox / WaPo / Opening Arguments on Twitter / Will Sommer on Twitter / NYT]
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