It’s been almost two years since Joe Biden decisively defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. And for all of that time Trump has stubbornly insisted that he was the real winner and that the election was “rigged” and “stolen” from him. Never mind that he couldn’t provide a shred of evidence to support his claims and that he lost dozens of lawsuits in a futile and delusional effort to cling to power.
Trump’s belligerent dishonesty has had numerous deleterious effects on the nation. Most notably, it led directly to a deadly assault on Congress by his cult followers attempting to stage a violent coup and obstruct the peaceful transfer of power. His relentless lying about the election contributed to undermining faith in democracy and fomenting fear and future violence by glassy-eyed StormTrumpers. It also resulted in billion dollar lawsuits against his Ministry of Disinformation – aka Fox News – for spreading election fraud conspiracy theories.
The case of one of the plaintiffs against Fox News, Dominion Voting Systems, has been progressing steadily. It has compelled depositions from Fox News hosts such as Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs, and Jeanine Pirro. And in new a report it has been revealed that the network was well aware that their hosts were disseminating false allegations that Dominion’s voting machines were designed to suppress Trump votes and/or switch them to Biden. NPR reports that…
“The November 2020 email from an anguished Fox News news producer to colleagues sent up a flare amid a fusillade of false claims. The producer warned: Fox cannot let host Jeanine Pirro back on the air. She is pulling conspiracy theories from dark corners of the Web to justify then-President Donald Trump’s lies that the election had been stolen from him.”
Fox News not only let Pirro back on the air, they promoted her to a co-host of Fox’s “The Five,” a top rated daily program. They also continued to allow Hannity, Carlson, Bartiromo, and many others on the air to spread Trump’s lies. NPR continued to say that…
“Dominion’s attorneys have obtained emails, texts, WhatsApp messages and more, documenting how the network’s executives and journalists behaved and acted behind the scenes, as well as determining what they actually knew about the claims, according to three people with knowledge of the litigation. Witnesses have been pressed about the degree to which the Murdochs and Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott were involved in making editorial decisions or kept in the loop.”
When NPR sought a comment from Fox News, they said only that they “were covering the most newsworthy story of that period — the president of the United States claiming election fraud.” Of course that is also a lie. The Fox hosts were not simply reporting what Trump had said. They explicitly alleged that the election was riddled with fraud and that Dominion was among those responsible.
Defamation lawsuits rest on the ability of the plaintiff to show that the defendant knew, or should have known, that what they were saying was false and that they acted with malice. The new evidence does a pretty good job of establishing that. Not that it was necessary. Fox News had been pushing the election fraud lies despite the fact that even members of Trump’s own administration had validated the election as legitimate.
They included Christopher Wray, FBI Director; Benjamin Hovland, of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission; director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Chris Krebs; and even Attorney General Bill Barr. Barr went so far as to tell ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl (in his recent book “Betrayal”) that “My suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all bullshit.”
With all of the legal tribulations bearing down on Trump and his media cohorts, it isn’t surprising that he is becoming ever more unhinged. And much of that lunacy is manifesting in his preposterous excuses for having stolen and hoarded classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago bunker. Look for Trump to sink farther into this abyss of desperation of his own making as the prospect of his being held accountable gets closer.
UPDATE: The lawsuit against Fox News by Smartmatic, a voting software company, is also progressing. A judge just ordered Fox “to start turning over files from a pool of millions of documents that the voting machine company demanded.”
Update II: NPR reports that Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott knew that the election fraud lies the network was promulgating were false. This helps substantiate the defamation case by Dominion against Fox. Scott told her staff, referring to election deniers, that “We can’t give the crazies an inch.” They did anyway. And still do.
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