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 election in 2020 was stolen from former President Donald J. Trump, court documents released on Monday showed.
“They endorsed,” Mr. Murdoch said under oath in response to direct questions about the hosts Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, a legal filing by Dominion Voting Systems said. “I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it in hindsight.”
Mr. Murdoch’s remarks, which he made last month as part of the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox by Dominion, added to the evidence that Dominion has accumulated in an attempt to prove its central allegation: The people running the country’s most popular news network knew Mr. Trump’s claims of voter fraud during the 2020 election were false but broadcast them anyway…
The filing on Monday also included a deposition by Viet Dinh, Fox’s chief legal officer. After Mr. Hannity told his audience on Nov. 5, 2020, that it would be “impossible to ever know the true, fair, accurate election results,” Mr. Dinh said, he remarked to Lachlan Murdoch; the chief executive of Fox News Media, Suzanne Scott; and Fox’s top communications officer, Irena Briganti: “Hannity is getting awfully close to the line with his commentary and guests tonight.”
In his deposition, Mr. Dinh, when asked if Fox executives had an obligation to stop hosts of shows from broadcasting lies, said: “Yes, to prevent and correct known falsehoods.”
Lawyers for Fox, which filed its response to Dominion in court on Monday, have argued that its broadcasts after the election did not amount to defamation because they were protected under the First Amendment. In court filings, Fox has defended its commentary and reporting as the kind of work that any journalistic outfit would do by covering events and newsmakers that are indisputably newsworthy.
“A reasonable viewer would have readily understood that hosts were not espousing the President’s allegations themselves, but were providing a forum for the principal architects of those legal challenges,” Fox lawyers said in a brief filed this month.