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New documents on Fox News and the presidential election | “It all seems insane”



It had been more than a week since news channels predicted that Joe Biden would become the next president. Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham were at a loss for what to say on air.

“What are we all going to do together tomorrow night?” Laura Ingraham, anchor of the 10 p.m. show on Fox News, asked her colleagues in a text message chain, on November 16, 2020.

Mr. Carlson replied that he plans to devote much of his show to a little-known electronic voting technology company that has become the target of Mr. Trump’s supporters who suspect the election was rigged: Dominion Voting Systems. .

“I haven’t said a word about it so far,” Carlson said, acknowledging that conspiracy theories about Dominion’s role in a fictitious plot to hijack President Donald Trump’s votes put him off. uncomfortable.

“It all seems crazy to me,” he wrote. And Sidney Powell won’t divulge the evidence. What I hate. Sidney Powell, legal adviser to the Trump campaign, “drives everyone paranoid and crazy, including me,” Carlson added.

Text messages like this, published Tuesday night in Dominion’s US$1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, are some of the clearest evidence of the serious doubts that many channel members spoke to each other, even as they told their millions of viewers a very different story of fraud and malfeasance at the ballot box.


Photos of Fox News personalities displayed outside Fox News offices, New York

Some Fox News hosts and guests have continued to air claims of widespread voter fraud and advance a revisionist account of what happened in the Capitol Riot on Jan. 6, 2021 — few have done so more than Mr Carlson, whose evolution from skeptic to election denier was on full display in the newly leaked posts.

“misleading” arrangements

This week, the host aired selectively edited footage, given to him by Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy, that attempted to portray the attack as nothing more than what Mr Carlson said he was an “orderly and gentle” procession of onlookers who were rightly unhappy with the way the election had gone.

Mr Carlson, who ridiculed allegations of a conspiracy to steal the election as ‘shockingly reckless’ and ‘absurd’ in his November 2020 text messages, also continued to give credence to lies about voter fraud widespread this week.

The protesters were angry. They thought that the election they had just participated in had been organized unfairly, and they were right.

Tucker Carlson, on his Monday show

He added, without giving details: “Looking back, it is clear that the 2020 election was a serious betrayal of American democracy. Given the facts that have since emerged about that election, no honest person can deny that. »

Some Republicans, who often try to avoid appearing critical of pro-Trump figures as powerful as Mr. Carlson, chastised the host on Tuesday for his comments about voter fraud and the attack on Capitol Hill. Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell said he stands by the Capitol Police Chief’s statement, which called the host’s comments “offensive and misleading,” and based on footage that was “conveniently chosen from the quietest moments” of the 41,000 hours of recording.

“Regarding the presentation of Fox News [lundi] evening, I want to associate myself entirely with the opinion of the Capitol Police Chief on what happened on January 6,” Mr. McConnell said. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential candidate, called Mr Carlson’s show “dangerous and disgusting”.

A Fox News spokesperson said Tuesday that Dominion had resorted to “distortion and misinformation” in its recent statements by misattributing quotes and omitting context in an effort to disparage the channel.

“We already know that they are willing to say and do anything to try to win this lawsuit, but misrepresenting and even misattributing quotes to the highest levels of our company is truly unacceptable,” the racketeer said. word.

Some of Mr. Carlson’s private remarks about Mr. Trump are hard to square with the praise he lavished on the former president in public. At times, the host and his producers gloated about what a news cycle would look like without Mr. Trump. And they happily predicted the weakening of his power as a political force.

“We are very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights,” Mr. Carlson wrote to his team members on January 4, 2021. “I really can’t wait. »

A producer replied, “I don’t want anything that bad. »

Mr. Carlson then replied: “I hate him passionately. »

The new documents show that Rupert Murdoch, chairman of Fox Corp., also harshly criticized Mr. Trump, to the point of being dismissive at times. During his testimony in the Dominion trial, Mr Murdoch said he thought the former president was a sore loser.


Rupert Murdoch, chairman of Fox Corp., in 2017

And when asked if he had ever believed in “massive fraud” in the 2020 election, he answered unequivocally: “No. »

“I never even studied the matter,” he said.

At one point, according to the full text of an email made public on Tuesday, Mr. Murdoch asked Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott if some hosts hadn’t been too willing to accept false accusations of fraud. . On January 21, 2021, Mr. Murdoch complained that Fox was getting “more mud thrown” for inflaming the rhetoric that helped spark the January 6 assault.

Then Mr. Murdoch conceded, alluding to Mr. Hannity and Ingraham, that “Sean and Laura may have gone too far”.

The sanitizing of the events of January 6, 2021 in shows such as Mr. Carlson’s over the past two years seems all the more glaring given the remarks he made on January 7, 2021. The new documents contain a string of text messages that the host exchanged with his producers that morning.

When Mr. Carlson again predicts that Mr. Trump’s influence will fade as he “become incalculably less powerful,” one of his producers fears that the final weeks of Mr. Trump only bring more chaos and danger.

“Trump’s anger spiral is vicious,” the producer tells his boss.

“Certainly,” replies Mr. Carlson.

“Deadly,” adds the facilitator. We have two weeks left. We can do it. »

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