Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple found himself astonished by the "scandalous" information that lawyers representing Dominion Voting Systems have unearthed in their lawsuit against Fox News.
Writing on Twitter, Wemple highlighted internal messages sent to Fox News hosts where they privately bashed the conspiracy theories that former President Donald Trump and his allies were pushing, even as they lent credence to those theories on their own shows.
"Sidney Powell is a bit nuts," said Fox News host Laura Ingraham of the lawyer who claimed that dead Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez conspired with Dominion to steal the election from Trump.
"Sidney Powell is lying," wrote host Tucker Carlson in a separate message.
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However, Wemple noted that there was a simple reason that Fox News hosts would not air these views on their own shows: They feared their viewers would simply turn on Newsmax or another right-wing cable news station that would tell them what they wanted to hear.
When Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich fact checked a Trump tweet with false claims about Dominion Voting Systems, for example, Carlson told host Sean Hannity to "please get her fired" because her tweet is "measurably hurting the company."
Wemple then drove home just how bad this looks for America's most popular cable news network.
"The minutiae disclosed in the Dominion filing are scandalous: They show just how incompatible is the hosts' candid chatter with the product they put on the airwaves -- and the reason for that gulf is ratings," he writes. "Period."
Fox News has pushed back against Dominion's claims, however, and has accused the firm of "cherry picking" quotes to make the network appear deceptive.
"There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners, but the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by New York Times v. Sullivan," Fox said in an official statement.