Media mogul Rupert Murdoch admitted in a deposition that hosts on his Fox News network promoted the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, court documents show.
The 91-year-old billionaire said some anchors had “endorsed” the falsehood, according to a filing by vote machine maker Dominion, which is suing Fox for defamation.
Murdoch denied though that the conservative network in its entirety had pushed Trump’s baseless claim that he had lost to Joe Biden because of widespread fraud.
“Not Fox, No. Not Fox. But maybe Lou Dobbs, maybe Maria (Bartiromo), as commentators,” Murdoch said under oath last month.
The media titan added that he had been doubtful of Trump’s claims, in the document released late Monday.
“I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it, in hindsight,” Murdoch testified.
A spokesperson for Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Dominion sued Fox News in a Delaware court in March 2021 for $1.6 billion.
It alleges that the 24-hour news behemoth promoted Trump’s false claims that its machines were used to rig the election.
The company argues that Fox News began endorsing Trump’s narrative because the channel was losing its audience after it became the first TV outlet to call Arizona for Biden, projecting the Democrat would win the presidency.
Fox News denies committing defamation. It claims it was only reporting on Trump’s allegations, not supporting them, and is protected by the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.
It can be difficult for plaintiffs to win defamation suits in America due to the First Amendment but the case risks inflicting significant financial and reputational damage on the right-wing network.
Dominion will have to prove that Fox News acted with actual malice, a tough burden to meet. The case could go to a civil trial if the parties do not settle.
The vote machine maker has also sued former Trump advisors Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell.
A court filing released earlier this month showed that Murdoch had described comments by Giuliani and Powell pushing Trump’s claims as “really crazy stuff. And damaging.”