Who controls Fox news? Let us look into it!
Liberals believe the network lies and misinform viewers to assist Republicans and the right.

Liberals believe the network lies and misinform viewers to assist Republicans and the right. The voting system firm Dominion’s defamation lawsuit over Fox News shows a much more complicated scenario in which the network’s main executives feel driven to disclose the conspiracy information the public wants.

In a Thursday filing, Dominion’s lawyers used Fox emails and messages they had acquired in the lawsuit’s discovery process and statements from key executives and presenters to describe what transpired in the anxious days after Election Day 2020, when then-President Donald Trump was circulating election claims.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson at a conservative political event on March 29, 2019, in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Fox’s top executives and primetime personalities were expressly concerned about alienating pro-Trump viewers, losing audience “trust,” and competing with Newsmax’s more conspiracy and right-wing reporting of Trump’s lies.

Trump’s claims of a stolen election and his lawyer Sidney Powell’s ludicrous Dominion misconduct were dismissed by the majority of the network.

However, a culture of “political correctness” developed, making it difficult to challenge Trump and Powell’s comments without upsetting Fox viewers.

In analysing right-wing lies and conspiracy, it’s vital to consider both demand and supply. Fox knows viewers want it and therefore satisfy it. Viewers will find it somewhere else if Fox doesn’t.


The terror of losing audience trust — and competition from Newsmax:

Dominion’s lawyers say the trouble began when Fox News’ decision desk called Arizona for Joe Biden late on the night of the election while no other networks joined them.

The Fox call severely undermined Trump’s effort to depict the election as contested. Premature. Other judgment desks and election wonks felt that Fox called the state too soon, considering the number of votes was still unreported and from whom.

As counting proceeded, some outlets left Arizona uncalled for more than a week, shrinking Biden’s advantage. Biden won the state with 0.3%.

Fox commentators worried further about optics than election wonkery facts. Fox seemed to pro-Trump viewers to be shivving Trump by calling Arizona for Biden while no one else was.

“We worked really hard to build what we have. Those fuckers [at the decision desk] are destroying our credibility. It enrages me,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson wrote to his producer on November 5. He went on to say that what Trump is good at is “destroying things,” adding, “He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.”

On November 7, Carlson again wrote to his producer when Fox called Biden as the winner nationally (this time, alongside the other major networks).

“Do the executives understand how much credibility and trust we’ve lost with our audience? We’re playing with fire, for real,” he wrote.

The fear of alienating the audience was particularly acute because another conservative cable network with a more conspiratorial bent, Newsmax, was covering Trump’s stolen election claims far more uncritically. “An alternative like newsmax could be devastating to us,” Carlson continued.

Fox News anchor Dana Perino wrote to a Republican strategist about “this RAGING issue about fox losing tons of viewers and many watching — get this — Newsmax! Our viewers are so mad about the election calls…” And Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott told another executive that the political team did not understand “the impact to the brand and the arrogance in calling AZ.”

Fox Corporation chair Rupert Murdoch later emailed Scott that Newsmax “should be watched, if skeptically … We don’t want to antagonize Trump further, but [Rudy] Giuliani [should be] taken with a large grain of salt.” He added, ominously, “Everything at stake here.”

Fox considered restoring pro-Trump audiences’ trust an existential priority as Trump continued his stolen election falsehoods and attempted to reverse Biden’s result. “Trying to get everyone to grasp we are on war footing,” wrote Fox News president and editor Jay Wallace to Scott.


How Fox’s influence really works:

This reminded me of Fox’s summer 2015 attempt to dethrone Donald Trump. Fox’s debate hosts hammered Trump with tough questions, but Trump supporters protested, and the network eventually endorsed him.

Fox’s audience doesn’t mindlessly follow Fox’s opinions. It is captive to its viewers, like any media organisation. It helps them by providing content they anticipate viewers will enjoy. But when their audience—hardcore pro-Trump conservatives—becomes detached from reality, as they did in the 2020 race, that’s an issue.

However, the Dominion suit illustrates Fox’s limitations. Fox is bound into viewers.