Fox’s own fact checking team knew the claims of election fraud were false

One of the nice things about legal opinions is that, although often long, they tend to lay out the facts of a case in an ordered, chronological manner, making it easy to understand what the case is all about. I have been reading the ruling by the Delaware judge Eric Davis on the defamation case brought by Dominion voting systems against Fox News Network (FNN) and its parent company Fox Corporation (FC) and I learned some new things. It appears that Fox News has a research department called the ‘Brainroom’ that is called upon to give definitive answers to questions and as early as November 13, 2020 (just 10 days after the election on November 3) they said that the fraud claims were rubbish. And yet, Fox continued to make the allegations for weeks and weeks after that.

Here is the relevant section on pages 17-18:

FNN has a centralized research department called the “Brainroom” that conducts internal fact-checking. On November 13, 2020, the Brainroom completed a fact-check regarding the Dominion allegations, which stated:

  • There was “no evidence of widespread fraud.” 

  • “Claims about Dominion switching or deleting votes are 100% false” and claims that 
votes for Former President Trump were deleted are “mathematically impossible.”
  • “Dominion has no company ownership relationships with any member of the Pelosi family, the Feinstein family, or the Clinton Global Initiative.” 

  • “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has debunked viral claims about the existence of a secret CIA program for vote fraud called Hammer and Scorecard.” 

  • “No credible reports or evidence of any software issues exist.” 

  • “Claims about software updates being done the night before Election Day are 100% 

  • “There are no issues with the use of Sharpie pens related to hand-marked paper 

  • “All U.S. voting systems must provide assurance that they work accurately and 
reliably as intended under federal U.S. Election Assistance Commission and state certification and testing requirements.”131

On November 21, 2020, Mr. Komissaroff asked the Brainroom to “get . . . the facts about the Dominion situation” and “separate facts from fiction.” The Brainroom forwarded Mr. Komissaroff the November 13 fact-check it had previously completed. Mr. Komissaroff testified that he put in the request after being asked to do so by Mr. Lowell and either Mr. Wallace or Ms. Scott. Mr. Clark confirmed that if the Brainroom concluded that the allegations against Dominion were false, the allegations should not have been aired.

The people mentioned is this excerpt are not lowly underlings but occupy the top echelons of FNN and FC: “Alan Komissaroff is the Senior Vice President of News and Politics of Fox News Network”; “David Clark is the Senior Vice President of Weekend News and Programming of Fox News and oversaw the bulk of programming on Saturdays and Sundays”; “Suzanne Scott is the Chief Executive Officer of FNN.As the CEO, Ms. Scott is responsible for the content of the shows and has the authority to direct shows to not host certain guests or broadcast certain content”; “Thomas Lowell is the Executive Vice President and Managing Editor of FNN”; “Jay Wallace is the President and Executive Editor of FNN and Fox Business. Mr. Wallace has “ultimate editorial control” over Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network”.

They were all aware that FNN was spreading lies and did not stop it although it was within their power to do so. This is where the standard of ‘reckless disregard for the truth’ poses the greatest danger to FNN and FC.

It appears that the judge is willing to compel many of key players at FNN and FC, including Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of FC, and his son Lachlan Murdoch, the chief executive, to testify at the trial that is scheduled to start on April 17.

A judge in Delaware on Wednesday said Dominion Voting Systems can compel Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch to testify in the election machines company’s $1.6bn defamation suit against Fox News.

If Dominion files the appropriate subpoena, Judge Eric M Davis said, “I would not quash it and I would compel them to come.”

In its own letter the next day, Dominion told Davis that Fox had previously conceded the Murdochs, former US House speaker Paul Ryan (a Fox board member) and Viet Dinh (Fox’s chief legal and policy officer) could be compelled to testify live.

Introducing a subsequent hearing, Davis said: “Mr Dinh, Mr Rupert Murdoch and Mr Lachlan Murdoch and Paul Ryan, they fall within the directors, officers, managing agents of a corporation, a Delaware corporation. And both parties have made these these witnesses very relevant.

“So it’s not like the cases where the judges excused bringing officers and directors.”

Explaining why the four witnesses would need to appear in person, Davis continued: “Corporations don’t raise their hand on the stand. Their officers and directors raise their hand on the stand. It’s the only way to get a corporation to testify.

In its letter on Wednesday, Dominion also said it planned “to bring all of the witnesses Fox lists in its letter live in its case”.

Such witnesses include the Fox News chief executive, Suzanne Scott; opinion hosts Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs; and the news anchors Bret Baier and Dana Perino.

Given the pretrial release of all the internal communications of these people that showed that disbelief of the charges made against Dominion were widespread within both organizations and yet they continued to spread them, it will be interesting to see how they fare under rigorous questioning.


  1. says

    It’s also important to note that the judge has basically granted most of Dominion’s request for summary judgement. In his decision, he wrote that the fraud claims were CLEARLY unfounded and dishonest -- basically setting arguments about the truthfulness of Fox’ assertions aside. Don’t even bother. The case is still going in front of a jury, though, and it sounds as though it’s going to be a session of hammering the shit out of Fox news personalities and managment, then the jury decides the damages. For all intents and purposes, the judge has declared that most of the lines of argument Fox might pursue in its defense are invalid.

  2. larpar says

    In addition to the monetary award, the on-air personalities should have to start each program with the line “I am a known liar”. In addition, every time they appear on screen the chyron at the bottom of the screen should read “Known liar!”.

  3. Oggie: Mathom says

    At this point, could this be considered a conspiracy on the part of FNN and FC? And would RICO be applicable in a case such as this? I would love to see FNN and FC hit with multipliers of the judgement based on the conspiracy that was directed from the management. Or am I misunderstanding the applicability of RICO?

  4. Matt G says

    How funny that the clown at Twitter has called NPR state-sponsored media while Faux is pushing this nonsense to support a political candidate.

  5. Owlmirror says

    I cannot imagine a more thankless and soul-crushing job than being a fact-checker for Faux News.

    The only ray of light and joy would be the frisson of schadenfreude if called to testify that, yes, you did give the facts to your bosses (here are the notes and references), and those bosses willfully chose to ignore your work and just say whatever the hell they wanted.

  6. Mark Dowd says

    This needs to be live streamed. It would be even more popular than Depp v Heard, and 100 times more significant.

  7. lochaber says

    What about the “No reasonable person would take what we say seriously” defense? Didn’t one of them (Tucker Carlson? Bill O’Reilly? someone else?) use that as a successful legal defense?

    Granted, there is some truth to that, but at what point, and how do you address that a large segment of the U.S. population are not “reasonable persons”?

  8. says

    @7 how do you address that a large segment of the U.S. population are not “reasonable persons”?

    I thought that was the underpinning idea of Fox’s business model.

  9. Owlmirror says

    I think that whenever a large media corporation tries to claim that no-one really believes claim X that it has been pushing, the legal team opposing them should commission a Pew poll to find out how many people in fact believe X.

    As it is, there are already polls out there showing that a large proportion of Republicans believe that the 2020 election was “stolen”

  10. says

    What about the “No reasonable person would take what we say seriously” defense?

    I don’t think it works in this case because Dominion is not a publicly traded company, so they can’t merely point to the stock market cap to show Fox’ lies impact on the business. But, it was bought out by its executive team and a big venture fund in 2018 -- the valuation’s change following 2020 would be very significant. More to the point, the buyout positioned the management team and VCs to act against Fox without having to clear it with shareholders. Smartmatic is a substantial $250m/yr revenues business -- they will be able to point at any sales downturn and blame Fox. (By the way it was Smartmatic that was connected to Venezuela, not Dominion; Powell is an idiot but you know that) anyhow -- several states cancelled orders for Dominion and Smartmatic machines because of the Trumpists’ lies. Fox will wind up paying the bill for that and punitive damages as well -- basically, Fox should have bought Dominion out before they trashed it.

    Mmmm garlic butter popcorn!

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