[guest post by Dana]
Rupert Murdoch admitted in a deposition that he knew that some Fox News hosts were endorsing lies about the 2020 election, and yet he didn’t stop them:
Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the conservative media empire that owns Fox News, acknowledged in a deposition that several hosts for his networks promoted the false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald J. Trump, and that he could have stopped them but didn’t, court documents released on Monday showed.
“They endorsed,” Mr. Murdoch said under oath in response to direct questions about the Fox hosts Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, according to a legal filing by Dominion Voting Systems. “I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it in hindsight,” he added, while also disclosing that he was always dubious of Mr. Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud.
Asked whether he doubted Mr. Trump, Mr. Murdoch responded: “Yes. I mean, we thought everything was on the up-and-up.” At the same time, he rejected the accusation that Fox News as a whole had endorsed the stolen election narrative. “Not Fox,” he said. “No. Not Fox.”
We know that for Fox, it was about keeping their ratings up and not losing viewers to more conservative news outlets willing to push the Big Lie narrative. If you recall, Fox ratings nosedived after the network called Arizona for Joe Biden. So, if peddling lies was what it took to keep viewers happy and keep the ratings up, so be it. As Fox News executive Bill Sammon said: It’s remarkable how weak ratings make good journalists do bad things. The last thing the network was concerned with was journalistic integrity, not while they were hemorrhaging viewers to even more right-wing media outlets. Fox knew that viewers wanted stolen election red meat. Popular on-air hosts and executives were only too happy to meet that demand. Some of these hosts were true believers, yet others privately mocked the narrative. Internal communications revealed that Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity privately mocked election fraud claims, yet continued to have guests on their shows who promoted the false narrative. Ratings were everything. Full stop.
With that, you would think that viewers would be furious to know that during one of the most pivotal moments in our political history, they were being fed a steady diet of propaganda and lies. You’d think… But considering that in January, Fox News had its 23rd consecutive month as the most-watched in cable news, they clearly remain in the good graces of viewers. For any meaningful hit to the ratings, it would take a massive number of viewers angered enough at the betrayal by popular hosts to compel them to turn off the network’s programming. I don’t see that happening. And even if Dominion wins its suit and Fox is ordered to pay out the $1.6 billion, I just don’t see viewers abandoning the network. Unfortunately, out of all the network’s catchy slogans over the years (“Fair and Balanced,” “We Report, You Decide,” “Real News. Real Honest Opinion, “Standing Up For What’s Right”), I suspect that, despite everything, Fox viewers will continue to prove correct the “Most Watched, Most Trusted” slogan.