Rupert Murdoch, founder and chairman of the cable TV channel Fox News which also owns scores of other conservative outlets, such as the Sun and the Times in the UK and the New York Post, admitted that Fox News TV anchors had alleged false conspiracy theories that Donald Trump won the 2020 US election, knowing full well that none of it was true.
After the victory of Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the 2020 US elections, Trump and many of his supporters have repeatedly claimed, without any tangible proof, that the result had been distorted by extensive electoral fraud and that Trump was the rightful winner. This conspiracy theory, also known as “the Big Lie”, has often been amplified by conservative newspapers and television channels, including very popular ones, including Fox News, which is the most watched television channel in the United States, has a decidedly right-wing orientation and he is very influential in the Republican Party. According to polls last October, 62 percent of Republican voters believe that Donald Trump was the real winner of the 2020 election, and several people who share this view have been elected to the US Congress.
Murdoch had previously described Trump’s obsession with the “Big Lie” as “a terrible thing that harms us all.” But his television network has nonetheless continued to invite figures supporting this false story, and various prominent hosts have continued to pitch it as a possibility over the past four years.
Recently, Murdoch was called to testify under oath in a defamation case against Fox News brought by Dominion Voting Systems, a company that manufactures electronic voting machines. Dominion believes that Fox News’ repeated doubts about the reliability of these machines raised during its programs have tarnished its reputation, and that network executives knew the claims of fraud were false but broadcast them anyway to chase profit and popularity. among the spectators.
Among the assumptions made by various Fox News guests after the election was the false notion that Dominion’s machinery was programmed with a secret algorithm that could move votes from one candidate to another that the company was founded in Venezuela to help the country’s authoritarian leader Hugo Chávez rig the election. Dominion wants $1.6 billion in compensation.
In his deposition, Murdoch denied that Fox News as a whole supported the “Big Lie,” but confirmed that several of its top anchors — including Sean Hannity, Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro and Lou Dobbs — helped give credibility to these claims despite knowing they were lies:
I could have stopped them, but I didn’t. (…) In hindsight, I wish we were stronger in denouncing this thing.
Some of the hosts themselves, either privately or under deposition, admitted they neither shared nor believed in the “Big Lie,” but they did not dismiss or contextualize the claims of recurring guests denying a Biden victory, including Trump attorney Sydney Powell. and Rudy Giuliani.
Viet Dinh, one of several executives who raised the issue within the company, also deposed on Monday after Sean Hannity said on television on November 5, 2020 that “it would have been impossible to know the actual, fair and accurate election results” of the Presidential Elections. He was asked whether Fox News executives had an obligation to stop anchors from broadcasting lies. He replied:
Yes, we have an obligation to prevent the spread of known falsehoods and correct them.
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