Former US President Donald Trump, who announced a third presidential candidacy in 2024, hosts a New Year’s Eve party at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on December 31, 2022.
Marco Bello | Reuters
In the hours after a violent mob raided the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Fox Corp executives vetoed former President Donald Trump’s attempt to appear on the network’s broadcast, according to filings Thursday court documents show.
The documents allege that the former president dialed into on-air personality Lou Dobbs on the afternoon of Jan. 6, but that executives halted Trump’s efforts to appear on the air.
“Fox refused to allow President Trump to air that night because ‘it would be irresponsible to put him on the air’ and ‘could negatively impact a lot of people,'” the filing reads.
The documents were first released this week as part of Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox Corp and its cable television networks. Dominion brought the defamation lawsuit against Fox and its right-wing cable networks Fox News and Fox Business, arguing the networks and its anchors made false claims that the company’s voting machines rigged the results of the 2020 election. The lawsuit is pending in the Delaware Superior Court.
Dominion, Fox Corp and Fox News filed their motions for summary judgment this week, revealing evidence from months of discovery and testimony that was private up to that point. Fox News anchors, as well as senior Fox Corp executives including Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch, have been questioned over the past few months.
The evidence also showed that Fox News’ top anchors, including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, expressed disbelief in allegations of fraud against Dominion that Dominion rigged the election. In particular, the moderators questioned allegations of fraud by Trump’s attorney Sidney Powell and Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Ingraham said in a message to Carlson, “Sidney is a complete idiot. Nobody will work with her. The same goes for Rudy,” the documents read.
Fox and its networks have rigorously denied the claims. In court filings Thursday, Fox Corp said it had “no role in the preparation and publication of the contested statements — all of which were broadcast on either Fox Business Network or Fox News Channel.”
Meanwhile, Fox News reiterated in court filings that it “fulfilled its obligation to provide full disclosure and fair comment” on allegations that Dominion rigged the election against Trump.
“Dominion and its opportunistic private equity owners will create a lot of noise and confusion, but at the heart of this case remains freedom of the press and speech, fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by the New York Times v. Sullivan,” Fox said in a statement released on Thursday.
Dominion said in court filings that Fox and its hosts felt pressure from audience backlash on election night 2020 when it called the state of Arizona for Biden. That pressure was evident in text messages between top Fox figures in the weeks following the election, which lasted through Jan. 6.
On the night before January 6, Rupert Murdoch told Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott: “It has been suggested that in prime time, independently or together, our three should say something like ‘The election is over and Joe Biden has won.’ “, according to the court documents. Saying so “would go a long way in stopping the Trump myth that the election was stolen,” he added.
On the evening of Jan. 6, Carlson texted his producer and called Trump “a demonic force. A destroyer. But he will not destroy us,” court documents show.
The lawsuit was closely followed by First Amendment watchdogs and pundits because defamation lawsuits often center around a falsehood, but in this case, Dominion cites a long list of examples of Fox TV hosts making false claims even after it is proven has that they are not true. Media companies are often largely protected by the First Amendment.
The trial is scheduled to begin in mid-April.