Fox News and Reckless Disregard for the Truth

More on the Dominion brief full of revelations about Fox News’s reckless disregard for the truth. Trump called in to the Lou Dobbs show on January 6, but Fox executives nixed putting Trump on the air. This is from the brief:

The afternoon of January 6, after the Capitol came under attack , then President Trump dialed into Lou Dobbs show attempting to get on air. But Fox executives vetoed that decision. Why ? Not because of a lack of newsworthiness. January 6 was an important event by any measure. President Trump not only was the sitting President, he was the key figure that day. But Fox refused to allow President Trump on air that evening because it would be irresponsible to put him on the air and could impact a lot of people in a negative way. 

Dominion goes on to complain that “The same is true of statements Fox chose to air about Dominion. Not only did the charges severely impact Dominion and its employees, they were based on verifiable falsehoods that any accurate and disinterested reporting would have mentioned.”

But I think it’s more than likely that the Fox execs were mostly trying to protect Trump as well as themselves. They must have known good and well how undisciplined Trump is and how he’s too stupid to know when to shut up. They must have realized he might have said something that would have incriminated himself, and maybe Fox, too. It’s a damn shame they didn’t let Trump talk to Dobbs.

Lou Dobbs comes up more than a hundred times in the brief, btw. I take it he was totally in the tank for Trump’s Big Lie. His show Lou Dobbs Tonight was the highest rated program on Fox Business Network, but it was cancelled abruptly in February 2021 after Dominion filed its lawsuit.

And the January 6 committee didn’t know about that call. It was not on White House phone logs. I’m not sure about the timeline, but I believe the Dobbs show was on after Trump would have told the mob to go home.

And then there’s Sidney Powell. This is from the brief, with interlinear citations deleted

Powell sent Bartiromo an email prior to the interview with the subject line Election Fraud Info which Bartiromo forwarded to Grossberg with information from a woman claiming Dominion’s software flips votes from Trump to Biden and tying Dominion to a conspiracy theory involving Nancy Pelosi and Senator Dianne Feinstein. … In the same email, Powell’s singular source explained that Roger Ailes (who, as previously noted, had died years ago) huddles every day with Rupert Murdoch about airing anti-Trump material, and that Justice Scalia was killed in a human hunting expedition ….  Powell’s source also explained that she gets her information from experiencing something like time-travel in a semi-conscious state, “allowing her to see what others don’t see, and hear what others don’t hear, and she received messages from the wind. … Bartiromo read this email at the time: she responded to Powell saying she had shared this very imp[ortant] info with Eric Trump. …  Powell provided Bartiromo with no other evidence for her claims about Dominion.

The context (see hard copy pages 118 and 119) suggests that Fox’s Maria Bartiromo had received this email from Powell before an interview on November 8. So they knew all along that Powell was nuts.

From the New York Times v. Sullivan case: “Factual error, content defamatory of official reputation, or both, are insufficient to warrant an award of damages for false statements unless “actual malice” — knowledge that statements are false or in reckless disregard of the truth — is alleged and proved.” I’d say Dominion has the proof.

At the moment, Fox lawyers seem to be reduced to arguing that Dominion has overinflated its value and shouldn’t be awarded the $1.6 billion in damages it is claiming.