Newsflash: You really can't trust Fox News, ever
Anyone who was cynical or dismissive about Fox News Channel before now has suddenly learned that they weren't cynical or dismissive enough. Astounding evidence emerging this week from the defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox, Rupert Murdoch, his son Lachlan and others shows, in excruciating detail, how the "fair and balanced" network actively lied to its viewers about purported "fraud" in the 2020 presidential election.
In their 192-page motion for summary judgment against Fox, the Dominion attorneys cite dozens of instances of Fox hosts and news executives consciously broadcasting truly outlandish falsehoods manufactured by former President Donald Trump's election team. Nobody with any sense could possibly have believed the nonsense claims of Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and nobody at Fox News did — as the internal messages and testimony cited by Dominion prove.
If it was ever possible to believe anything on Fox News, it isn't anymore. What these documents demonstrate beyond question is that from Murdoch down, the Fox apparatus prizes ratings above all else, and in their greed will readily trash the truth night after night. They know that they're lying, and they just don't care.
Actually, that's not entirely fair: The evidence shows that the Fox knaves knew they were lying and cared a little bit, because they realize how bad it all looks. But they lied anyway, over and over, because that's what hypnotizes the Trump cult.
"That whole narrative that Sidney was pushing, I did not believe it for one second," Fox host Sean Hannity testified about Powell, whom he described as a "lunatic" in a text message. Yet Hannity broadcast her claims repeatedly, no doubt inspiring viewers to believe violence might be required to restore Trump's "stolen" victory.
Evidently the Fox primetime hosts discussed their doubts among themselves. Laura Ingraham texted Hannity and Tucker Carlson that Powell "is a bit nuts. Sorry but she is." Carlson texted that "Sidney Powell is lying," mocking her conspiracy theories as "ludicrous" and "totally off the rails." Yet that wasn't what they told the gullible Fox audience, who yearned to believe that Trump could nullify Biden's election somehow.
Nearly every Fox host colluded in this immoral scheme.
The behavior of Maria Bartiromo, who had built a reputation as a competent business journalist, was so disturbing that her colleagues began to question her mental condition. In the days following the election, when she first promoted Powell's mad theories about Dominion software switching votes from Trump to Biden, Bartiromo received a startling email from the Trump lawyer about her "source" on the Dominion fraud accusations.
In that message, titled "Election Fraud Info," the source also claimed that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was purposefully killed at the annual Bohemian Grove camp during a weeklong human hunting expedition and that the late Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch were secretly meeting to decide how to trash Trump.
"Who am I? And how do I know all of this?" wrote Powell's source. "I've had the strangest dreams since I was a little girl, was internally decapitated, and yet, I live. The Wind tells me I'm a ghost, but I don't believe it."
Former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, who received (and concealed) that same insane message, likewise reinforced the loony conspiracies articulated by the Trump lawyers. On Twitter and on air, he echoed Powell's warning that the 2020 election represented a "cyber Pearl Harbor" and berated Attorney General William Barr for debunking the president's fraud claims. "We have tremendous evidence already," Dobbs said — a remark he later admitted, under oath, was simply never true.
In a limited space, it is impossible to convey the full impact of these disclosures, which have vaporized the reputations of Dobbs, Bartiromo, Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham and their bosses like a nuclear blast. While their deranged viewers may remain, they are forever diminished. Neither Fox News nor its personnel have ever retracted their grotesque lies.
More important than the fortunes of Fox News — which should suffer a summary judgment and a multibillion-dollar penalty — was the malignant purpose of that fraudulent "election fraud" campaign. Steve Bannon, a convicted fraudster himself, articulated its aims in a message to Bartiromo within days after the election.
Bannon confided to her that "71 million voters will never accept Biden. This process is to destroy his presidency before it even starts; IF it even starts. We either close on Trumps (sic) victory or delegitimize Biden. THE PLAY."
That was indeed the "play" for the anti-democratic Right — and Murdoch's minions will do it again next year, without a twinge of conscience, for money and power.