“Bad for business”: Fox News CEO scolded reporter for fact-checking Trump’s lies in “stunning” email

Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott warned that the network could face a financial crisis if it fact-checked former President Donald Trump’s election lies in 2020, according to messages revealed on Wednesday. 

In one email sent on December 2, 2020, Scott told Meade Cooper, the executive vice president of prime-time programming that the fact-checking “has to stop now.”

The message came after correspondent Eric Shawn came on Martha MacCallum’s show to fact-check statements made by Trump and a guest on Sean Hannity. 

“This is bad for business and there is a lack of understanding what is happening in these shows,” Scott added in the email. “The audience is furious and we are just feeding them material. Bad for business.”

A spokesperson for Fox News told CNN that Scott was not frustrated with fact-checking, but that the issue revolved around “one host calling out another.”

In another email, Scott slammed correspondent Kristin Fisher for what she described as a “dismissive tone” in November 2020. Scott also disclosed that the company had “lost 25k subs from FOX NATION,” the network’s streaming service.

A Fox News spokesperson told Salon, “This is about the tone and delivery of the correspondent, it has nothing to do with fact checking.”

The email came to light as a part of Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News. It had previously been redacted in earlier court filings but was included in a hearing last week in Delaware. 

Per a court order, Dominion publicly released their full presentation on Wednesday. Fox News, which has denied any wrongdoing, accused Dominion of cherry-picking emails. 

“These documents once again demonstrate Dominion’s continued reliance on cherry-picked quotes without context to generate headlines in order to distract from the facts of this case,” a Fox spokesperson said in a statement. “The foundational right to a free press is at stake and we will continue to fiercely advocate for the First Amendment in protecting the role of news organizations to cover the news.”

Other emails show network producers talking about putting Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell — who were spreading debunked conspiracy theories about Dominion — on the air because it boosted ratings. 

“Any day with Rudy and Sidney is guaranteed gold!” wrote a producer for host Lou Dobbs’ show. In another email obtained by CNN, another Dobbs producer wrote, “to keep this alive, we really need Rudy or Sidney.”

Fox Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch admitted that Trump’s election lies were the cause of the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, saying it was “pretty much a crime,” according to an email that became public Wednesday. 

“Trump insisting on the election being stolen and convincing 25% of Americans was a huge disservice to the country,” Murdoch wrote to Scott and his son, Lachlan, on Jan. 20, 2021. “Pretty much a crime. Inevitable it blew up on Jan 6th.”

He then advised the two on how to approach the situation to protect the network while maintaining ratings. 

“Best we don’t mention his name unless essential and certainly don’t support him,” Murdoch wrote. “We have to respect people of principle and if it comes to the Senate don’t take sides.”

Murdoch also admitted in his deposition that he did tell Scott to stop allowing Trump on the air. “At some time, I certainly said that,” Murdoch said.

Texts also show Tucker Carlson calling former Powell a “crazy person” and “psychopath” among other sexist expletives. 

Another email shows that Fox News was likely aware they were promoting lies on their network, as a staffer sent fact-checks to the production staff early on.

“On November 13, Fox ‘Brain Room’ employee Leonard Balducci circulated fact-checks from Dominion and the AP debunking various claims about the company,” Gertz wrote with an image of the messages.

In a text chain, Carlson also said election denier Mike Lindell was “definitely crazy,” but admitted that his advertising “bailed us out loads of times when no one else would.”

Jeanine Pirro’s executive producer emailed Fox executives to say her pre-tape “is rife w conspiracy theories and bs and is yet another example why this woman should never be on live television.”

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

An internal review confirmed that parts of her monologue were incorrect or unconfirmed, and that the network chose to air it anyway. Pirro was shortly promoted to co-host of the network’s live panel show, The Five. 

In an appearance on the 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle, former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner said Fox was “intentionally selling lies to the American people because they want the revenue to continue flowing into Fox’s coffers.”

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper said Wednesday that it was “stunning” to see the network’s CEO trash fact-checking.

“Not something you would expect from a leader of a purported news network, right? There’s just more fallout every day,” said media reporter Oliver Darcy. 

“I mean, it’s incredible!” Cooper exclaimed.

The case is scheduled to go to trial next month, with jury selection set to start on April 13. 

“They say they have good legal arguments against Dominion, and we will see what happens if this case does go to trial in a few weeks,” Darcy said. “We’re still waiting to hear from the judge whether they are going to rule on those summary judgment motions, which basically, Dominion is asking FOX to declare themselves the winner. FOX is saying we should be declared the winner without a trial. That’s unlikely to happen from the legal experts I’ve spoken to. It’s a very high bar.”

Read more

about the Fox lawsuit


Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar