Can Fox News Handle the Truth? As Long as It Pleases the Viewers
An old cynical newsperson jokes about not “letting facts get in the way of a good story.”
In today’s world, one might just as easily say, don’t let facts get in the way of audience ratings or viral internet surfing clicks.
Such is the newsroom scene unfolding in the case that Dominion Voting Systems filed against Fox News for what Dominion says were Fox’s false claims of election fraud by the voting machine firm.
Dominion, armed with correspondence between some of the network’s biggest stars and executives, charges that Fox News knew the stolen election claims were a big lie, yet continued to report them as if they were legitimate — as they pushed narratives to entice back their wavering audience.
For that, the Dominion brief requests, first, a summary judgment against Fox News for defamation and, second, the breathtaking sum of $1.6 billion.
Yes, that’s a lot of moola but the stakes are high. The potential damage that charges of election fraud can bring to a voting machine company is so great that one should be careful about making such charges.
But, no less breathtaking than the charges and potential damages is the inside view of Fox News laid out in the 192-page document filed recently. Seldom does one see, thanks to internal messages, such a clear-cut case of people who say one thing even as they know that something else is the truth.
The document lays out how senior figures at Fox News, from Fox founder Rupert Murdoch on down, knew immediately after the election that claims of voter fraud, particularly those aimed at Dominion, were false.
Yet, unlike past election nights where we have seen newsrooms celebrate being first to call the winner correctly, this one was viewed internally as something of a crisis, the unpleasant task of telling the audience news that many were anything but eager to hear: Arizona had given Biden enough votes to win the election.
Anchor-host Tucker Carlson texted his producer: “Do the executives understand how much credibility and trust we’ve lost with our audience? An alternative like NewsMax could be devastating to us.”
(c) 2023 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.