Friday, February 17, 2023


Yes, they knew they were lying -- not that it will matter.
In the days and weeks after the 2020 elections, the Fox News Channel repeatedly broadcast false claims that then-President Donald Trump had been cheated of victory.

Off the air, the network's stars, producers and executives expressed contempt for those same conspiracies, calling them "mind-blowingly nuts," "totally off the rails" and "completely bs" - often in far earthier terms.

The network's top primetime stars - Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity - texted contemptuously of the claims in group chats, but also denounced colleagues pointing that out publicly or on television....

Those revelations and far more surfaced in legal filings made public late Thursday afternoon as part of Dominion Voting System's blockbuster $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox and its parent company.
Fox's superstars attacked colleagues who told the truth about the vote because Job #1 at Fox is protecting the brand. Fox's decision to call Arizona for Joe Biden before any other news organization was seen as extremely bad for the brand, as Dominion's brief notes:
... on November 9, the impact of Fox's Arizona call became more evident to Fox executives. Carlson told [Fox News CEO Suzanne] Scott directly: "I've never seen a reaction like this, to any media company. Kills me to watch it." ... Scott immediately relayed the email to Lachlan Murdoch.... She told [Fox senior vice president Irena] Briganti that [D.C. bureau chief Bill] Sammon did not understand the impact to the brand and the arrogance in calling AZ which she found astonishing given that as a top executive it was Sammon's job "to protect the brand." ... And on that day -- "day one," as Scott termed it -- Fox executives made an explicit decision to push narratives to entice their audience back.
The election was the top news story in America for the next two and a half months. The damage to the brand was clear throughout that period -- in January, after Biden's inauguration, it was reported that Fox was only the third most watched cable news channel in the post-election period, behind CNN and MSNBC. But promoting election conspiracies was probably what Fox needed to do to retain enough viewers to mount a comeback early in 2021.

We know how that comeback happened:

Cancel culture, CRT, "grooming," Hunter Biden -- Fox has generated audience-pleasing content since 2021, but election conspiratorialism got Fox through a rough patch with a lot less damage than two and a half months of telling would have caused. Fox was again the most-watched cable channel in 2021. In the spring of 2022, rival One America News Network was dropped by DirecTV, and Newsmax was dropped last month.

The $1.6 billion in damages Dominion is seeking seems like a lot of money, but it's about a month and a half of revenue for Fox Corporation. And there's no reason to believe that Dominion will be awarded this amount or anywhere near it, nor is there any reason to believe that any payout will happen soon.

Fox on-air personalities repeatedly spread lies about the election, and saved Fox's brand. It seems quite possible that the decision to spread these lies made Fox more money than it will ever pay out. The viewers are back. Tucker Carlson is the most politically influential media figure in America. At Fox, life is good. So it was probably worth the cost.

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