Rupert Murdoch says Fox hosts 'endorsed' election claims, court filing says

He also said execs who allowed lies to be broadcast "should be reprimanded."

February 27, 2023, 5:24 PM

Fox News boss Rupert Murdoch said in a deposition under oath that any Fox News executives who knowingly allowed lies to be broadcast on the air "should be reprimanded" or "maybe got rid of," according to a new court filing on Monday by Dominion Voting Systems.

"I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it in hindsight," he said during his deposition, according to the documents.

The statements are the latest to be revealed in court filings by Dominion as part of its billion-dollar defamation suit against the network, which has shown Fox News hosts and employees privately doubting the claims that Dominion's voting machines had somehow rigged the presidential election in Joe Biden's favor.

The latest filing Monday reveals even more of the private communications and thought processes of some of its top executives-- mainly Murdoch, who testified under oath last month.

In his deposition, Murdoch said that beyond hosting guests pushing stolen election claims, "some of our commentators were endorsing it."

"I think you've shown me some material in support of that," he said.

California Lottery Director Alva Johnson announces that Edwin Castro won November's record-high $2.04 billion PowerBall jackpot, Feb. 14, 2023, in Sacramento, Calif.
Adam Beam/AP

In one example of his messages, Murdoch told a New York Post reporter that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was "a terrible influence on Donald" and what Trump was saying was "b******* and damaging," according to the filing.

"Fox News very busy pivoting ... We want to make Trump a non person," Murdoch wrote in another email, in January 2021, according to the filing.

"Dominion's lawsuit has always been more about what will generate headlines than what can withstand legal and factual scrutiny, as illustrated by them now being forced to slash their fanciful damages demand by more than half a billion dollars after their own expert debunked its implausible claims," Fox News said in a statement to ABC News on Monday. "Their summary judgment motion took an extreme, unsupported view of defamation law that would prevent journalists from basic reporting and their efforts to publicly smear FOX for covering and commenting on allegations by a sitting President of the United States should be recognized for what it is: a blatant violation of the First Amendment."

According to the Dominion filing, Fox's highest-ranking lawyer, FC Chief Legal and Policy Officer Viet Dinh, also said executives would have an obligation "to prevent and correct known falsehoods."

In this Oct. 30, 2018 file photo, Rupert Murdoch introduces Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the Herman Kahn Award Gala, in New York.
Mary Altaffer/AP, FILE

The filing also says, "During Trump's campaign, Rupert provided Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, with Fox confidential information about Biden's ads, along with debate strategy."

Though the relationship appeared to change when Fox News was the first to call Arizona in Biden's favor on election night.

"My friend Jared Kushner called me saying, 'This is terrible,' and I could hear Trump's voice in the background shouting," Murdoch said in his deposition, according to the filing. "And I said, 'well, the numbers are the numbers.'"

Additionally, Murdoch testified that he was "very much aware" that Trump was not happy with Fox's Arizona call, according to the filing.

Murdoch also said it was "probably true" that during a call with Sen. Mitch McConnell shortly after the election that Murdoch had "urged him to ask other senior Republicans to refuse to endorse Mr. Trump's conspiracy theories and baseless claims of fraud."

In another instance, Murdoch texted Paul Ryan, saying, "Trump on Saturday sounded really crazy."

The text was in response to a Dec. 6 message from Ryan saying that "we are entering a truly bizarre phase of this where [Trump] has actually convinced himself of this farce and will do more bizarre things to delegitimize the election," according to the filing.

"I see this as a key inflection point for Fox, where the right thing and the smart business thing to do line up nicely," Ryan said, according to the filing.