Besieged by angry viewers, denounced by then-President Trump, questioned by some of its own stars, Fox News found itself in a near-impossible spot on Election Night 2020 after its election-analysis team announced before any other network that Joe Biden would win the pivotal swing state of Arizona.
Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott proved so flummoxed by what ensued that she warned colleagues, “We can’t give the crazies an inch.”
That’s according to the account of a lawyer for Dominion Voting Systems, which is seeking $1.6 billion from Fox in a defamation suit over false allegations on the network that the company committed election fraud. A trial date is set for April in Delaware.
The voting machine and technology company’s attorney, Justin Nelson, revealed Scott’s remarks in a court proceeding earlier this week, in which he argued that Dominion’s legal team is entitled to receive the employment contracts of 13 Fox News executives, including Scott. She has served as CEO since 2018. (Dominion is also suing Fox Corp., the network’s parent company.)
In a ruling Wednesday, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis affirmed that Dominion should receive the contracts — the point of contention in the hearing.
For days after the election, Trump and his top aides demanded the network rescind its announcement of Biden’s victory in Arizona, even pressuring the network’s controlling owners, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch. In the weeks that followed, a cadre of Fox News stars hosted Trump’s advisers — and even Trump himself — to peddle baseless conspiracy theories of election fraud. Many of those false claims asserted without evidence that Dominion’s technology and machines had been used to rig the vote and to cheat Trump out of the White House.
According to Nelson’s remarks at the hearing, senior Fox News executives interceded to try to block Fox Business stars Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo from having Trump’s campaign attorneys, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, on their shows to repeat such lies. In late 2020, Dobbs and Bartiromo hosted Trump’s advocates to make those accusations.
Fox’s attorney, Justin Keller, did not dispute the remarks attributed by Nelson to Fox News CEO Scott. Nor did he deny that executives sought to intervene in the two programs’ efforts to book Powell and Giuliani even though their claims had been discredited. Instead, he made a broader argument against allowing scrutiny of the executives’ contracts, saying that was unnecessary given how many documents the network has already turned over to Dominion.