In their billion-dollar libel lawsuit, Dominion Voting Systems advances the argument that Fox News peddled conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election in an effort to prevent their viewers from changing channels into contestants far-right Newsmax and One America Network.
A series of internal slides from the media giant released on Monday help provide Dominion with evidence to move this case forward.
“WHAT KEEPS US Awake AT NIGHT,” one of those slides says, in all caps.
One of the bullet points that appears after that reads: “Impact of post-election NEWS”.
A separate slide explores the “POST-ELECTION STRATEGY” in more detail, which expresses concerns about Newsmax’s booming business.
“Rising shares at Newsmax creates a narrative that the decline of FNC rtgs is structural and not cyclical,” one of the bullet points reads.
Fox chief operating officer Joe Dorrego explained the distinction in a deposition in late February.
“When something is structural, is it a permanent change? Dominion attorney Justin Nelson asked.
“Yes, yes,” Dorrego replied.
“And when something is cyclical, will it go up and down?”
“Correct,” replied the COO.
In his deposition, Dorrego denied telling Lachlan Murdoch that he feared such a development would occur.
“I think what we’re talking about here is if their share increase was sustained, then I think over a long period of time it could be – creating the narrative that our rating declines are structural and not cyclical” , said Dorrego.
“Fortunately for us, as we sit here today with 20/20 hindsight, we actually know as much as we expected what we looked at during this time – this very short was quite, you know, exactly what we expected and cyclical in nature,” he added.
Dominion’s attorney asked Dorrego if he told Lachlan Murdoch there was a risk that this narrative would settle on November 16, 2020, the date of this meeting.
“I think we identify it as a potential risk but not necessarily an actual risk at this time,” Dorrego replied.
Dorrego was also asked about the outpouring of anger from Trump supporters after Fox called Arizona for President Joe Biden.
Fox Corporation Senior Vice President Raj Shah said of the social media outrage, “It’s getting pretty perilous,” according to the deposition.
“People responsible for analyzing Fox’s ratings and future trends conclude that it’s getting pretty perilous, isn’t it?” Needled Nelson.
“That was their point of view, yes,” Dorrego replied.
Dominion’s attorney also quoted Shah, Nov. 10, 2020, as being concerned about competition for Fox from the political right.
“We’re not concerned about losing market share to CNN or MSNBC at this time,” Shah said. “Our concern is Newsmax and One America News Network.”
For Dominion, Fox’s top announcer and Trump booster Mike Lindell also gave the network an economic incentive to entertain post-election conspiracy theories. Dorrego has freely acknowledged that Lindell is “one of our biggest advertisers.”
“It would be hard to turn on Fox News and not see it for many commercial breaks,” he added, acknowledging that Lindell had a conversation with Lachlan Murdoch.
Throughout its litigation, Dominion has argued that Fox executives and talent secretly ridiculed the 2020 post-election conspiracy theories and allowed them to proliferate on the airwaves. The voting machine company says this trend went all the way to Rupert Murdoch, who took a keen interest in its information empire.
Dorrego acknowledged that Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch attended editorial meetings “on occasion,” but did not specify how often.
Fox did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
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