Within the 3 months that could cost Fox $1.6 billion
As part of the lawsuit, Dominion received thousands of internal Fox emails and text messages and fired dozens of Fox employees. This evidence shows in extraordinary detail how the network went astray in the weeks following the election. Here is a timeline of that fateful time as referred to in court records. Some of these exchanges have been shortened slightly for clarity.
Fox News vs. Dominion Voter Systems
Documents from a lawsuit brought against Fox News by voting machine maker Dominion have shed light on debate within the network over false claims surrounding the 2020 election.
November 3, 2020
A sales record
On election day, Fox News was in high demand. A draft of an internal memo written by the executive who oversees promotions for the network, Jeff Collins, described the sales records the station had just set.
Latest election news
• 11 of the 15 busiest days in Fox News history have been since the first presidential debate on September 29th
• Election Day posted the highest linear earnings in Fox News history despite a significantly reduced commercial load…
• According to Kantar, Fox News generated more political revenue than any other broadcast or cable network.
“Lots… to think about”
But a few days later, when Mr. Biden was declared president-elect by all major news organizations, including Fox, viewership began to dwindle. The company’s top executives, including Fox Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch and Fox News Media chief executive Suzanne Scott, took notice.
“Getting creamed by CNN!” wrote Rupert Murdoch, chairman of Fox Corporation.Credit…Mary Altaffer/Associated Press
In an email to Ms Scott, Mr Murdoch wrote:
Getting creamed by CNN! Guess our viewers don’t want to see it. Hard enough for me!
You will return. (Not for Chris Wallace!)
Laura Ingraham very good and gracious.
Anyway, soccer today!
Half an hour later, Ms. Scott forwarded the email to Fox News President Jay Wallace. She described her recent discussion with Mr Murdoch and his son Lachlan, the chief executive officer of Fox Corporation, about how the network could begin to regroup post-Trump:
SUBJECT: Fw. Reviews
Long talks with KRM and Lachlan (told them first 72 hours will be the worst) awaiting them
-major polling overhaul (the WSJ is doing the same and will not be collaborating with NBC)
– Audiences don’t want to see too much of Mayor Petes and Coons etc in the news hours. Be wary of bookings over the next 2 months – especially in the news hours
– Breaking News and Investigative Units need to get back in the game and have been beaten by digital reporters for breaking news over the past year.
Keep talking tomorrow – lots to think about this week.
Nov 10 and 11
“It’s everything our viewers care about”
A week after the election, a consensus quickly solidified within the network: it must stop losing viewers to a much smaller right-wing cable news rival, Newsmax.
Dana Perino, a Fox News anchor and former spokeswoman for President George W. Bush, texted Colin Reed, a Republican strategist, about the brewing concern:
… But there’s this RAGING issue on Fox that’s losing tons of viewers and lots are watching – get that – newsmax! Our viewers are so mad at the polls (as if our polls were different. It’s just votes!)
Another host, Tucker Carlson, texted his producer, Alex Pfeiffer, about the fact that viewers were angry that Mr. Carlson had ignored allegations of voter fraud on his show that night – a topic Newsmax had hammered out:
Alex Pfeiffer: You told me to tell you if we’re being attacked on Twitter, so I’ll do it. Many viewers were upset tonight that we didn’t report on voter fraud.
Tucker Carlson: Yes. Probably would have.
piper: Yes, I didn’t understand why we didn’t do it. Assuming it was some kind of decision not to do it.
piper: But that’s all our viewers care about now
Carlson: I just hate that shit.
piper: Yes, it’s frankly awful
piper: did you see that? [Texts a tweet with an excerpt of a Washington Post article that quotes an anonymous Republican official who says Mr. Trump will eventually get tired of claiming he was cheated and leave office.]
piper: It’s like birth pangs 2.0. A grassroots movement that the GOP leadership thinks they can control and disappear, but they won’t.