Fox hosts and producers knew Giuliani and Powell were unreliable. They kept booking them anyway.
A recently disclosed filing in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against Fox News revealed that figures at the network — from producers to hosts to executives — knew that Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who were acting as lawyers for then President Donald Trump, were untrustworthy and unreliable. Yet Powell and Giuliani made at least 33 appearances on Fox News and Fox Business in the six weeks following the election, repeatedly using that platform to push conspiracy theories about election fraud.
Host Sean Hannity had doubts about both Giuliani and Powell, but he hosted them on his show 5 times in the six weeks following the election. Giuliani was on 4 times while Powell made 1 appearance.
According to the filing, on November 11, 2020, Hannity said, “Rudy is acting like an insane person.” Despite Hannity’s behind-the-scenes acknowledgement that Giuliani was clearly not reliable, Hannity hosted him 4 times within the next month. During a November 19 appearance on Hannity’s show, Giuliani claimed the election was a “national conspiracy” and that Democrats “stole probably about 2 million votes.”
Similarly, Hannity testified, “[T]hat whole narrative that Sidney [Powell] was pushing. I did not believe it for one second.” Yet Hannity hosted Powell on November 30, allowing her to claim that “we’ve got evidence of corruption all across the country in countless districts. The machine ran an algorithm that shaved votes from Trump and awarded them to Biden.”
Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo hosted Powell and Giuliani 9 times in the six weeks following the election across her two shows -- Sunday Morning Futures and Mornings with Maria.
During a November 8 appearance, Bartiromo asked Powell about Dominion and “reports” of prominent Democrats being involved with the company. The Dominion filing reveals that Powell’s source for this information was an email from a woman who described herself “internally decapitated” and pushed multiple conspiracy theories including one claiming that Justice Antonin Scalia was killed in a “human hunting expedition.”
Powell had shared the email from this source with Bartiromo prior to the interview, with the subject line “Election Fraud Info.” In her deposition Bartiromo admitted that the email was “not evidence,” “nonsense,” and “inherently unreliable.” During that show, however, after Powell used that email to claim Democrats “have invested in it [Dominion] for their own reasons and are using it to commit this fraud, to steal votes,” Bartiromo’s response was simply, “Wow.”
Behind the scenes, Lou Dobbs’ producers knew that Giuliani and Powell were full of shit. Yet Dobbs hosted Giuliani and Powell 17 times on his Fox Business show in the six weeks following the election. Giuliani had 7 appearances, and Powell was on 10 times.
On November 18, 2020, according to the filing, a Dobbs producer said of Giuliani, “Keeping in mind his insanity lately.” Not only was Giuliani booked on Dobbs’ show that very day, but he also appeared twice the next week. Similarly, just days after a producer called Powell’s lawsuits “complete bs” in a text to Dobbs, Dobbs hosted her on the show.
Over and over, Fox producers and hosts allowed Powell and Giuliani to use their programs to push conspiratorial nonsense about the election, even though those same producers and hosts knew they were untrustworthy sources.
Fox knew it was allowing dangerous lies to be pushed on its airwaves; the network just didn’t care.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the Nexis database for all available programming on Fox News Channel and Fox Business for either of the terms “Giuliani” or “Powell” from August 1, 2017, through February 16, 2023, for episodes that analysts determined to include Rudy Giuliani or Sidney Powell as guests. We also searched our internal database of all original, weekday programming on Fox News Channel (shows airing from 6 a.m. through midnight) for episodes that analysts determined to include Rudy Giuliani or Sidney Powell as guests.