Multiple Fox News employees told media reporters that newly released filings from Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the right-wing network show that Fox prioritizes its prime-time opinion programming over its news division. They echo what past staffers who have left say: Fox is a propaganda network for Republicans.
As of March 7, hundreds of exhibits from Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox News and its parent company have been released. Among many other things, the exhibits prove that senior executives, prime-time opinion hosts, and production staff for those programs knew that Fox was lying when it was pushing the Trump campaign’s false claims of a stolen 2020 presidential election. Emails and text messages disclosed in the filings showed that Fox reporters were also singled out for criticism by senior Fox executives and the network’s prime-time stars, including Tucker Carlson, who demanded one reporter be fired for fact-checking a tweet by then-President Donald Trump lying about the election. The filings also show that Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch treated Fox like a Republican propaganda outlet, sharing ads the Joe Biden campaign was running on the network with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and repeatedly and explicitly instructing Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott to use the network to help GOP Senate candidates win.
Fox has long touted its supposed “news side,” which has been in decline since the Trump administration, as a buffer to criticism of its overall right-wing programming. But in response to these newly revealed filings, multiple current Fox employees explained to media reporters that Fox can no longer do so, and that the network caters to its far-right propaganda broadcasting instead of actual news reporting.
Anonymous quotes from Fox staffers show Fox is not a news organization
In response to incendiary revelations in two recent filings released as part of Dominion's defamation case against Fox News, as well as a host of supplemental exhibits also provided by Dominion, the rift between the façade of Fox's “news side” and its actual core business as a Republican propaganda outlet has grown into public view.
- A Fox News journalist told CNN that “the opinion folks are probably right in that there really isn't a lot of love lost between us and them.”
- According to The Daily Beast, a Fox reporter “wondered how [Fox primetime host Tucker] Carlson could continue to work for the company after it was revealed that he was demanding at least one journalist be fired for doing their job.”
- A Fox producer told The Daily Beast: Carlson “acts like the king of Fox. Entitlement. Extremely unprofessional.”
- One Fox correspondent told The Daily Beast: “Honestly, Tucker is a joke, and I don’t know many in the news division that likes or respects him. He makes our jobs harder and way more dangerous.”
- A senior Fox staffer told CNN media correspondent Oliver Darcy that he was correct and “should keep saying” that the Dominion filings made it clear that Fox isn’t a news network.
- A news production staffer at Fox told The Daily Beast that it’s always been “opinion first, news secondary” there: “The news side has always been kind of used as a bit of a shield, a bit of a legitimacy play. And I think that in and of itself is, it’s kind of falling apart now.”
- A Fox producer referenced the criticism of Fox’s reporters revealed in the filings, telling The Daily Beast: “If journalists are being criticized for being hard on the Trump admin or truthfully talking about the election, it’s a form of censorship. The news division is being given less importance.”
- A Fox reporter called out Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott in The Daily Beast’s report for “clearly not looking out for the news side,” adding: “How can we all continue to work for her?! How can anyone watching Fox for news believe that they’re gonna get news if she’s in charge? We are not happy.”
- A veteran Fox journalist told The Daily Beast that “Tucker has publicly attacked and humiliated journalists here at Fox before,” so “it shouldn’t be a surprise that he was trashing us behind the scenes.”
- One Fox correspondent told Brian Stelter, writing for Vanity Fair of the released text messages from Fox’s prime-time opinion hosts: “We thought they hated us, but now we know it in their own words.”
- A Fox staffer told CNN that “people are really shocked and disgusted” by what was revealed in the filings, adding: “Even longtime staffers. You would think after all we've been through nothing could surprise us. But this is unprecedented."
- A Fox reporter told The Daily Beast that the fallout from the filings is “demoralizing, deflating and soul-crushing” to a journalist.
- More than one Fox employee told Stelter “we’re all embarrassed” by the filings’ contents.
Fox staffers in the past have also explained how the network operates like a propaganda outfit rather than a news organization
This reaction to the contents of the Dominion filings is not the first time current or former Fox staffers have called out the network for being little more than a GOP propaganda shop; Fox veterans Chris Wallace, Carl Cameron, Shepard Smith, and Chris Stirewalt all agreed that Fox's core business is not news once they left the network. Wallace called it “unsustainable” that Fox questioned the 2020 election results and downplayed the pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Cameron said that “over the years, the right-wing hosts drowned out straight journalism with partisan misinformation.” According to CNN, Smith believed “that his presence on Fox became untenable as opinion shows on the network spread falsehoods that hosts knew were lies.” Stirewalt admitted that Fox became “an arm of a political party” during the Trump years. And there was even more on-the-record criticism of the network from former employees who said they were “increasingly embarrassed by the channel,” which had become “a destructive propaganda machine” during the Trump era.
Additionally, a September 2019 report from The Daily Beast attributed the following anonymous quotes criticizing the network to then-current Fox staffers:
- “Fox has acted like state media for a long time. This is just one small element to it.”
- “As an employee, I have had concerns about how close Fox has become with the White House and the administration. I don’t think I’m the only person there who has these concerns. … With these layoffs in multiple news departments coming just a few weeks before the election, it looks like Fox is more like an extension of this administration, instead of a news network.”
- “The opinion team appears to have won the internal battle” with the news side.
- The leaders of the Fox News website “are not interested in facts. They are obsessed with pitching ‘on-brand’ stories that include Blue Lives Matter, anything antifa-related, anyone who has suffered during BLM protests that can put the protestors in a negative light, anything that threatens Christianity, and anyone who is a Trump supporter who has somehow been wronged.”
- “The Brain Room, in their research, came up with facts that were not used in Fox reports or were in contradiction to what Fox aired. I have to imagine that kind of tension has always existed there, between the fact-checkers and what is often reported.”
- Top Fox executives have “long been unsupportive of real, unbiased reporting. They do not see themselves as a real news operation in the sense that people are doing original work, trying to break stories and get to the bottom of things, wherever the chips fall.”