According to a new filing in Dominion Voting Systems' lawsuit against Fox News, the network's hosts and producers privately shared misgivings and criticisms about former Republican President Donald Trump's falsehoods about election fraud even as the network continued to promote his claims.
The lawsuit revealed emails from multiple people at the network—including Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity—who criticized Trump's legal team, particularly the conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell and disgraced former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who spearheaded Trump's defense.
But Tucker Carlson, perhaps the network's biggest mouthpiece for lies about election integrity, cast doubt on Trump's claims in text messages to his producer, Alex Pfeiffer, referring to Trump as a "demonic force" and a "destroyer" in the aftermath of the Capitol riot.
In fact, Pfeiffer agreed with Carlson, responding that “many on ‘our side’ are being reckless demagogues right now" as Trump railed against Fox News for calling the state of Arizona for Democrat Joe Biden on Electon Night.
Carlson worried the network's decision would have an adverse impact, saying the team had "worked really hard to build what [they] have" and that it infuriated him to see "those f**kers... destroying our credibility."
And when Pfeiffer agreed with him, Carlson said Trump was good at “destroying things," adding:
"He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.”
Carlson later sent a text to Pfeiffer in which he suggested that Trump needed to concede “that there wasn’t enough fraud to change the outcome” of the 2020 election.
Carlson reserved especially harsh words for Sidney Powell and disparaged her in a separate message to Ingraham for “lying” about having evidence for election fraud, saying he "caught" her in an "insane" lie. Ingraham reiterated Carlson's concerns and called Powell "a complete nut" like Giuliani.
Perhaps most strikingly, Carlson responded to Ingraham with the following message:
“It’s unbelievably offensive to me. Our viewers are good people and they believe it.”
Despite all this, Carlson went on television many times to lend credence to Powell's claims about election fraud, at one point saying she had described “the single greatest crime in American history" even as he admitted, later during the same program, that Powell "never sent us any evidence, despite a lot of requests."
The news of Carlson's remarks—to say nothing of the others with whom he'd communicated—quickly took social media by storm.
Throughout, Fox News continues to allege the statements Dominion has challenged in its lawsuit "are not actionable defamation because Fox News’ coverage and commentary are not only not defamatory, but also protected by the First Amendment and New York doctrines emanating from it.”
Dominion has filed several lawsuits against right-wing networks that disseminated false allegations that Dominion "rigged" its own machines to subvert the 2020 election result.
In a 2021 lawsuit, Dominion claimed that the far-right, pro-Trump One America News (OAN) presented a Long Island swing-set installer as an "expert mathematician" who claimed to uncover evidence of Dominion manipulating voter totals during the 2020 election to benefit Biden.
Dominion has also filed lawsuits against Giuliani, Powell, and MyPillow Inc. chief executive Mike Lindell, who claimed Dominion conspired with foreign powers to rig voting machines and mounted a three-day "Cyber Symposium" which crashed and burned when he failed to produce any evidence of fraud.