What Fox News hosts allegedly said privately versus on-air about false election fraud claims
Written by ABC AUDIO on March 7, 2023
(NEW YORK) — As information from the Dominion Voting Systems’ lawsuit against Fox News reveals more about what allegedly occurred behind the scenes at the cable network in the wake of the 2020 election, below is a look at what some the biggest Fox stars were privately saying about election fraud claims — versus what they said on-air to their viewers around the same time.
The voting machine company, which is suing Fox News for $1.6 billion for allegedly defaming the company in the aftermath of the 2020 election, has filed court documents containing emails, texts, testimony, and other private communications from Fox News personnel appearing to cast doubt on claims that Dominion’s voting machines had somehow rigged the presidential election in Joe Biden’s favor.
The material suggest a stark contrast between concerns the hosts privately raised about fraud claims and the claims that they aired to their viewers, sometimes within the same day.
Fox News has said that Dominion in its filings has “mischaracterized the record” and “cherry-picked quotes stripped of key context.”
“Dominion’s lawsuit has always been more about what will generate headlines than what can withstand legal and factual scrutiny,” network officials said in a statement. “Their efforts to publicly smear FOX for covering and commenting on allegations by a sitting President of the United States should be recognized for what it is: a blatant violation of the First Amendment.”
Dominion, in its filings, claims that it sent more than 3,600 separate communications to Fox News with fact checks intended to correct false information. In one of the entries included in Dominion’s filing, a Fox executive wrote to a colleague that he had received so many of Dominion’s fact checks that “I have it tattooed on my body at this point.”
Below are some examples of Fox hosts’ private communications, as cited in the filing, versus what they said on their broadcasts at around the same time.
Tucker Carlson: ‘The software s–t is absurd’
IN PRIVATE: On Nov. 8, Carlson privately texted his producer that the allegations about Dominion were “absurd,” according to the Dominion filing. Also that day, Carlson’s producer texted him about his own doubts.
“I don’t think there is evidence of voter fraud that swung the election,” producer Alex Pfeiffer texted to Carlson, per the lawsuit. “The software s–t is absurd,” Carlson allegedly responded. “Half our viewers have seen the Maria clip.”
ON-AIR: On his show just one night later, Carlson pushed more suggestions of fraud, though he said “we don’t know anything about the software.”
“We don’t know how many votes were stolen on Tuesday night. We don’t know anything about the software that many say was rigged. We don’t know. We ought to find out,” he said. “But here’s what we do know. On a larger level, at the highest levels, actually, our system isn’t what we thought it was. It’s not as fair as it should be. Not even close.”
Carlson during this show also said that “false claims of fraud can be every bit as destructive as the fraud itself,” according to the filing, and that “[T]he fraud that we can confirm does not seem to be enough to alter the election results. We should be honest and tell you that…”
Maria Bartiromo: Powell’s ‘kooky’ email
IN PRIVATE: On Nov. 7, host Maria Bartiromo scoffed at an email she received from attorney Sidney Powell forwarding her evidence of fraud, calling it “kooky,” the filing said.
ON AIR: Just one day later, Bartiromo had Powell on her show where she invited her to discuss her claims, saying “I know there were voting irregularities.”
“Sidney, we talked about the Dominion software. I know that there were voting irregularities. Tell me about that,” she said, according to Dominions filing.
Sean Hannity: “Rudy is acting like an insane person”
IN PRIVATE: On Nov. 11, according to the filing, Hannity privately commented on Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.
“Rudy is acting like an insane person,” Hannity said, per the filing.
IN PUBLIC: That same day on his show, Hannity told his viewers that the lawsuits and affidavits being filed allege “serious election misconduct.”
“Investigations continue in multiple key states where hundreds, now, of sworn affidavits are being filed, lawsuits are being filed, alleging serious election misconduct,” he said. “And let’s not forget the software error — we’re going to be focused on this a lot — wrongfully awarded Joe Biden thousands of ballots that were cast for President Trump, until the problem was amazingly fixed. And according to a report, that very same software — it’s called Dominion Voting Systems — that was used in 28 states.”
Tucker Carlson: Allegations against Dominion ‘shockingly reckless’
IN PRIVATE: On Nov. 21, Carlson privately texted that claims about Dominion were “shockingly reckless,” according to the filing.
It’s “shockingly reckless” to claim Dominion rigged election “[i]f there’s no one inside the company willing to talk, or internal Dominion documents or copies of the software showing that they did it” — “as you know there isn’t,” he wrote, according to the lawsuit.
ON-AIR: Two nights later, on Nov. 23, Carlson told his viewers during his show that security surrounding electronic voting machines was a “real issue.”
“You’ve heard a lot over the past few days about the security of our electronic voting machines. This is a real issue, no matter who raises it or who tries to dismiss it out of hand as a conspiracy theory. Electronic voting is not as secure as traditional hand counting. Period. It never will be as secure,” he said.
Laura Ingraham: ‘No serious lawyer could believe what they were saying’
IN PRIVATE: On Nov. 22, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham privately discussed Sidney Powell, according to the filing, with Tucker calling her a “nut.”
“It totally wrecked my weekend. Wow… I had to try to make the WH disavow her, which they obviously should have done long before,” Carlson told Ingraham, per the filing. “No serious lawyer could believe what they were saying,” she allegedly replied. “But they said nothing in public,” replied Carlson. “Pretty disgusting.”
ON AIR: Just one night later, Ingraham, speaking to her viewers, said that she believed the election was “rife with problems and potential fraud” but that Biden would be nonetheless inaugurated on Jan. 20.
“Now legal challenges continue in a number of states, serious questions about vote counting, poll watcher access, are outstanding — but unless the legal situation changes in a dramatic and frankly an unlikely manner, Joe Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20,” she said. “Now, to say this, does not mean I don’t think that this election was rife with problems and potential fraud … and it does not mean that I disagree with the president’s right and obligation at all to pursue legitimate legal challenges to this outcome.”
Tucker Carlson: ‘There wasn’t enough fraud to change the outcome’
PRIVATE: On Nov. 13, Carlson wrote privately that Trump needed to concede, and agreed that “there wasn’t enough fraud to change the outcome” of the election, according to the filing.
PUBLIC: Three nights later, Carlson said on air that there are “legitimate concerns” about election integrity.
“Millions of Americans understandably are asking the questions and questions like it. Those are real questions. Our current system does not inspire confidence,” he said. “People have legitimate concerns about the integrity of our elections and right now a lot of those concerns center on the software that many states use to keep track of ballots.” And while Carlson added that he would not “endorse” Powell’s claims until he saw evidence, he said they were “shocking” and that he didn’t “dismiss it out of hand.”
Laura Ingraham: ‘Sidney is a complete nut’
IN PRIVATE: On Nov. 18, Carlson said privately to Ingraham that he caught Powell “lying” and it was “unbelievably offensive,” according to the filing.
“Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane,” Carlson allegedly said. “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy,” replied Ingraham. “It’s unbelievably offensive to me,” said Carlson. “Our viewers are good people and they believe it.”
ON-AIR: On the air that night, Ingraham criticized those who dismissed Trump’s challenges as conspiracy theories and praised another “great show” that had reviewed affidavits that “cited really disturbing things they had seen.”
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