Patterico's Pontifications


Rupert Murdoch: Yes, I Knew That Some Fox Hosts Were Promoting Election Lies

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:14 am

[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.


25 Responses to “Rupert Murdoch: Yes, I Knew That Some Fox Hosts Were Promoting Election Lies”

  1. Hello.

    It occurs to me that for Fox viewers to understand just how disrespected and betrayed they were, they would have to turn to other media outlets for the information. Certainly Fox News and the Fox website aren’t going to provide it. However, for the true believers, they wouldn’t believe it anyway.

    Dana (1225fc)

  2. I’m confused. Whenever management interferes in the operation of an MSM outlet, it’s a scandal. They even insist that a new owner swear to keep hands off. When they run complete crap themselves, the owners never step in because “newsroom independence!”

    Why the double standard here? Murdoch was following the rules.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  3. That said, if they do end up paying out a fortune expect that Trucker, Hannity, etc are going to looking for jobs and Fox will be a better outlet for it.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  4. What I would love to see is a lower judgement that required several hosts to read an on-air apology admitting that they were lying all along.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  5. #3

    Tucker and Hannity and Ingraham were all following orders. I don’t think firing them is in the cards. (Remember…ratings).

    Maybe I need to re-watch Network. My vague memory of that movie is that some of this was predicted.

    Appalled (03f53c)

  6. Kevin, the straight news division got it right, but now we know that the primetime lineup and several loopy-loos knew the “massive fraud” claims were false but communicated otherwise on their programs. If that isn’t a “reckless disregard for the truth”, I don’t know what is, and Dominion should get a nice fat payday.
    As for Murdoch’s role, he runs the company, so he can direct their programming as he sees fit, and he chose to look the other way, all because he and Tucker and Hannity and so many others on staff chose to be ratings wh0res and went on to smear an innocent company instead of question Trump’s Big Lie.

    Paul Montagu (8f0dc7)

  7. Fox viewers mostly consume other RW media. Other RW media have no incentive to discuss fox’s lies.
    1. In many cases the talent wants to move up to Fox
    2. The audience doesn’t want to hear they were lied to.
    3. A RW outlet that covers this as a liberal conspiracy will get better engagement then one that covers it as straightforward news.

    Time123 (9397db)

  8. A RW outlet that covers this as a liberal conspiracy will get better engagement then one that covers it as straightforward news.

    Bingo. I think it’s safe to say that all RW media outlets would cover this as a conspiracy because it will a) please viewers by confirming their already baked-in viewpoints, and b) keep the media outlet’s ratings up.

    Dana (1225fc)

  9. I was listening to a radio show today where they noted that they had a guest on several times who claimed that a local vote was stolen even though they personally did not believe there was proof of that. They had the person on because he was a well known person with the most knowledge of the that side of the contest, they didn’t challenge him, they just let him speak his piece and let the listeners make up their own minds. In order to be free, we need to tolerate some people or we wind up like Twitter censoring anything “China” about COVID or censoring Harvard and Stanford MD’s who had dissenting opinions on how to handle COVID

    steveg (dea415)

  10. I’m pretty sure that even if Tucker et al were required to read an on-air admission that they’d been lying, their viewers would “know” that this was merely forced on them by the liberal conspirators.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  11. “Man, you’re never going to get any truth from us. We’ll tell you anything you want to hear; we lie like hell… We deal in illusions, man! None of it is true! But you people sit there, day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds… We’re all you know. You’re beginning to believe the illusions we’re spinning here…” – Howard Beale [Peter Finch] ‘Network’ 1976

    “And that’s the way it is…” Walter Cronkite

    DCSCA (a56042)

  12. “In order to be free, we need to tolerate some people or we wind up like Twitter censoring anything “China””

    But without evidence, isn’t it really just motivated reasoning and gossip? You might say, “what’s the harm” and “let him speak”. But how many people are going to assume that he has some inside knowledge and automatically trust his opinion because he’s on the radio. I’m not sure how you maintain a democracy when we’re ok with propaganda and gossip substituting for truth.

    Elections and voting are imperfect, but once we buy into the allegation that elections are broadly manipulatable and results are always questionable…especially with no requirement of actual evidence…. where does that leave us? That’s why Trump is a menace. We work on a system of rule of law where evidence is primary. Making broad claims of election tampering is irresponsible and letting people spread rumors and innuendo is corrosive to the system. Making up one’s own mind should mean looking at actual evidence and insisting on getting evidence…..and not trusting gossip, especially when it’s not labeled explicitly as gossip.

    AJ_Liberty (5f05c3)

  13. Floriduh republicans want to ban democrat party because it was the party of slavery.

    asset (4d7b82)

  14. Good post, Dana.

    Yes. Fox was protecting its right flank by humoring the election deniers.

    I recall waiting for a Covid shot at a supermarket in the spring of 2021. I heard some Trumper lady spouting off, and how she didn’t really trust Fox News anymore. IIRC, she was saying that there were other media outlets that were more supportive of Trump.

    I’m not even sure she was there to get the shot, because it was a pharmacy waiting area.

    At that time, it became a contest among Fox, Newsmax, and OANN to claim the title of the “one true church”, something I am all too familiar with, having grown up in the Mormon church.

    norcal (7345e5)

  15. Murdoch basically says that many anchors were given a lot of independence and Fox News as a whole did nothing.

    But they and their bosses surely watched their ratings. And they weren’t stopped.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  16. Murdoch basically says that many anchors were given a lot of independence and Fox News as a whole did nothing.

    But they and their bosses surely watched their ratings. And they weren’t stopped.

    Sammy, what Murdoch was saying was 1) he knew that some of his on-air talent knowingly peddled false information to viewers while privately mocking them; 2) he knew that some of his on-air talent were true believers pushing false information which they believed to be true; 3) Despite knowing this, Murdoch refused to stop the dissemination of lies because he didn’t want to see the ratings tank. Murdoch and his executives made the conscious decision to continue to peddle lies to their viewers because their viewers would not stand for the truth (that the 2020 election was won by Joe Biden, and Trump was the loser). That’s what he basically said. Stop making excuses for bad behavior.

    Dana (1225fc)

  17. @16. The fine line of it is the difference between their revenue generating ‘opinionators’ at night versus the straight news packages read by the teleprompter readers during the day, as stacked by the NewsCorp suits in the morning production meetings- when producers have to line up guests beyond those already under contract as ‘contributors’ Remember, the straight news readers are NOT the Managing Editors of their respective news blocks/programs.

    With the nighttime opinionators, the excuse umbrella is always it is ‘opinion’ and not straight news. The Hannity, Tucka and Ingraham types are not journalists and have never been billed as so. It’s purposeful and deliberate — for ratings and profit. And don’t kid yourself that the other newscablers aren’t trying work similar formula chasing Fox’s numbers, eyeballs– and profits.

    The real question is why Murdoch’s NewsCorp nighttime audiences- particularly in the U.S., remains so dominant– and grows, and how many viewers watch for the ‘entertainment’ content [pretty women and heated, shouting matches] rather than information that reinforces existing beliefs. It’s hard work digging out actual news today; you have to look for it. This is why unregulated cable w/t proliferation of platforms, along w/t explosion of internet outlets, along w/losing the Fairness Doctrine [thanks to Reagan] has hammered and fragmented the media landscape into what it is today– chasing profits. It’s really a sad development that shows no sign of ebbing, [as the satire, yet prescient, ‘Network’ presented.] Especially with so much $ to be made- which in itself can manipulate how stories and programming content are stacked in the A, B, C and D blocks. With so many platforms, viewers have to work hard to dig out actual, factual news, 24/7– and the beast needs fed… it’s almost exhausting.

    DCSCA (089f60)

  18. DCSCA,

    I’d like to get your opinion on Tuckyo. Why do you think he has the #1 show on cable news? What’s his secret?

    I have my guesses, but I’d like to hear from somebody who was in the business.

    norcal (7345e5)

  19. @18. The format– and time slot for sure; 8 PM in the East; 5 PM Pacific. Getting bumped up into O’Reilly’s slot and losing the bowtie was a lucky make or break move for him by NewsCorp and his opinionating was a good fit as a lead in to the other two heat, not light opinionators, Hannity and Ingraham. Viewers likely stay for all three hours- audience numbers can track that. And look at Carlson’s competition on the other newscablers– or the networks- in the same time slot. He’s a solid lead in to the long established opinionators Hannity and then on to Ingraham for sure. Remember, too, all three have radio shows and podcasts and so forth audiences that follow them as well. If Carlson wasn’t drawing the numbers and eyeballs he’d have been flushed long ago just as he was at CNN and MSNBC. It’s just how television works. To me, the opinionators as mere entertainment, certainly not news sources. But the audience demographics are different and Carlson’s reach is significant.. too many take him as gospel – hence McCarthy’s deal, for example.

    Television is a minefield. Seriously, watch the film ‘Network’— though satire when quilled, it is genuinely one of the most accurate portrayals of how the industry operates today; the personalities, business and motivations as well. I’ve actually met and worked w/similar personalities exactly like those portrayed in that film. There’s no difference between Tucker than an hour of Howard Beale or ‘The Death Hour’ or ‘The Price Is Right’ or episodes of the ‘Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.’ It’s all about getting eyeballs to sell cars and beer. Fox could air a tank full of tropical fish at that hour and get viewers. Tucker is just a bigger fish for now. Back in the day the time slot example was the Carson show and the old story was test audiences weren’t as responsive to the late night icon in earlier time slots– that’s why, if you recall, Leno was pissed off at airing earlier at NBC… it just didn’t work as well, nor draw the eyeballs.

    DCSCA (816cdc)

  20. it’s really a shame that Fox pushed lies that weren’t aligned with the lies the rest of the MSM pushed

    the media should get together and agree on one set of lies

    JF (7f9b19)

  21. @20: He’s not wrong.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  22. Thanks, DCSCA. Good explanation. I’ll have to be sure and watch Network.

    norcal (7345e5)

  23. it’s really a shame that Fox pushed lies that weren’t aligned with the lies the rest of the MSM pushed

    the media should get together and agree on one set of lies

    JF (7f9b19) — 2/28/2023 @ 9:39 pm

    Yes, JF, all the media should accuse voting machine manufacturers of election fraud, knowing that it’s a lie, in order to keep their viewership and stock prices up.

    nk (bb1548)

  24. That is the real Russian interference in our elections, comrades.

    Not Manafort going around to local GOP party chairmen with briefcases full of cash.

    Not Flynn playing footsies with the Russian ambassador.

    Putin’s media shills spreading doubt about the integrity of our elections.

    nk (bb1548)

  25. Putin’s media shills spreading doubt about the integrity of our elections.
    nk (bb1548) — 3/1/2023 @ 5:34 am

    nk, looks like Putin’s media shills had better success spreading doubt in 2016 than 2020, so the good news is that it’s trending downward though we should remain ever vigilant

    JF (7f9b19)

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