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HomeOpinionEditorialsFox News’ Integrity Is on the Line, and So Is $1.6 Billion

Fox News’ Integrity Is on the Line, and So Is $1.6 Billion

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Dominion Voting Systems’s $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News has seen new filings that have positively turned the tide for the prosecution. The lawsuit against Fox started in 2021 when Dominion argued that Fox defamed their brand due to the 2020 election fraud conspiracy. The new filings come in private messages sent amongst many key players in Fox News, including top anchors and management.

Turns out, Fox News is about as two-faced as multimillion-dollar news conglomerates come. The messages include conversations between Sean Hannity, Suzanne Scott, Rupert Murdoch and even Tucker Carlson. They provide stark evidence that Fox members demean voter fraud conspiracy theories, while pandering to their narrative on air. Even Carlson, arguably the most devoted host at Fox when it came to being a Donald Trump-loving election fraud theorist, had a fair share of text messages revealed. Some of his texts outright state his hatred for Trump. The most shocking one is a confession that he never believed the election was a massive fraud.

Dominion then argued that not a single Fox witness testified that they believed in the allegations they were making against Dominion. They argued that Fox’s choice to discredit the voting company was motivated by the pressure they had to increase viewership. At the time, smaller pro-Trump networks like Newsmax were taking the viewers Fox was losing.

Throwing Dominion Voting under the bus to gain more viewership would’ve been perfect timing for Fox News given that “everything was at stake for them” after Fox called Arizona for Joe Biden days earlier than any other news station. This not only infuriated their Trump loving audience, but also Trump himself. By accurately reporting election results, they had inadvertently alienated their most loyal audience. 

In a Zoom call with other Fox executives, Suzanne Scott, the CEO of Fox News, argued that the Arizona call had done immense damage to the brand. Everyone that mattered at Fox agreed. Carlson asserted that he had never seen this much backlash, and Murdoch questioned whether calling Arizona was the right choice. 

The company needed to do some serious damage control. 

First, they fired the very analyst that made the call in the first place – Bill Sammon, a Fox Analyst who had never made an incorrect call in his 12 years of working with the company. This was one of the first instances of Fox choosing ratings over facts.

Then, Scott went back to running Fox under her one motto: “Respect Fox’s Audience.” She brought Fox back to a system that told viewers what they wanted to hear and showed them what they wanted to see instead of the truth.

Conveniently, this is when Fox began fueling the popular conspiracy theory of the 2020 election being stolen. They entertained speakers like Rudy Giuliani on their shows, who ranted about Dominion Voting’s software being created by Hugo Chávez to cheat in elections in South America — a claim that has long been debunked. Carlson, in spite of his now-revealed comments, argued that the lack of security from electronic voting machines rigged the election in Biden’s favor. 

In the end, Fox News is an organization that puts profit over facts. In the new filings, countless records have been released showing the damage control that occurred within Fox after election night. The records include testimonies from reporters like Gillian Turner and Kristin Fisher who lost their spots on Fox News Primetime for debunking election fraud claims. 

Scott said that she couldn’t defend reporters that don’t understand Fox’s viewers.

Evidently, what she meant was that she couldn’t defend writers that didn’t know how to cushion their words for a sensitive audience. While any respectable news outlet should hold respect for their audience, this should never get in the way of conveying the truth.

Scott’s method of appeasing her audience is disguising opinion as fact. Fox has created a political bubble that provides utopian content for the average Trump fan. In doing so, they have been able to gain easy money from them at the cost of losing their credibility with those outside their audience.

The truth of a story doesn’t matter as much as the anger and attention a good tagline can instill in a potential audience. 

What Fox has done isn’t a harmless crime. The new channel’s devout support of election fraud claims dangerously contributed to the growing political polarization of America. It is the polarization that forced Dominion into taking legal action and which incited an event like the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Fox’s actions have consequences, and Dominion’s lawsuit will hopefully be Fox’s long-awaited karma. This lawsuit has not only confirmed the suspicions of audiences outside of the Trump train, but also opened the eyes of their most loyal audience. Hopefully, they too realize that their devotion was just a dollar sign on a spreadsheet.

Layla Asgarian Nahavandi is an Opinion Staff Writer. She can be reached at lasgaria@uci.edu.