A recently published brief from Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News shows Fox executives repeatedly called out anchor Maria Bartiromo, implausibly still considered a straight news anchor by the network, for amplifying election fraud lies on right-wing social media platform Parler. Media Matters has identified at least 12 of these posts from the immediate aftermath of the 2020 election, at least three of which appear to specifically defame Dominion.
In March 2021, Dominion filed a defamation suit against Fox News and its parent company for the false claims the network pushed after the election. Those false claims were extensive: In the two-week period after Fox News declared Joe Biden the president-elect, the network questioned the results of the election or pushed conspiracy theories about it almost 800 times, including by using Dominion as a scapegoat.
Dominion’s brief calling for a summary judgment in its favor, released to the public last week, reveals that the network knew it was pushing false claims about Dominion’s voting machines. As Dominion detailed in the filing, “Literally dozens of people with editorial responsibility—from the top of the organization to the producers of specific shows to the hosts themselves—acted with actual malice.” This includes Fox anchor Maria Bartiromo, whom the filing calls out for amplifying baseless attacks against Dominion both on her show and across social media.
The filing also reveals that Fox executive Gary Schreier and Fox Business News President Lauren Petterson lamented that Bartiromo “sometimes” amplified baseless conspiracy theories.
“On November 7, [Petterson] received an alert that there was a coordinated effort on 4chan to spread claims that Dominion voting systems were used to commit fraud… The next day, Gary Schreier warned Petterson that Bartiromo ‘has gop conspiracy theorists in her ear and they use her for their message sometimes.’”
The filing also mentions that after Bartiromo announced that she would be leaving Twitter for the far-right social media platform Parler, “Petterson commented to Schreier, ‘How about get off social all together.’ Schreier responded, ‘I mean if you say crazy wrong shit on Parler is that better just because Parler won’t flag you?’”
Here are some of the posts that Bartiromo shared on Parler amplifying baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election:
Dominion’s brief references several instances in which Bartiromo spread election lies on Parler
The filing mentions that on November 5, Bartiromo “posted unfounded allegations of vote ‘dump[s]’ on social media,” prompting Fox host Brett Baier to alert Bill Sammon, the network’s then Washington bureau chief, “We have to prevent this stuff…We need to fact check.”
The filing details that when Bartiromo hosted Trump lawyer Sidney Powell on her show on November 8, 2020, she planned to ask about “voting irregularities” and “Bartiromo knew Powell would respond with conspiracy theories about Dominion.” The day before, Powell had sent Bartiromo an email titled “Election Fraud Info” that Powell had “received from a 'source' which the author herself describes as ‘pretty wackadoodle.’” Bartiromo reportedly described the email as “kooky” and “nonsense.” From the filing:
“Bartiromo … never reported on the existence of this email. Nor did Bartiromo tell her viewers about the source of Powell’s claims or that Trump’s own Senior Advisor and son-in-law rejected the allegations as conspiracy theories. While the claims were laughable on their face, Bartiromo gave them credibility. As Tucker Carlson texted that night, “[t]he software shit is absurd.…Half our viewers have seen the Maria clip.”
Bartiromo also promoted lies from Powell on Parler, including by sharing a November 15 clip from Sunday Morning Futures featuring Powell claiming that “the evidence is coming in so fast” she 'can't even process it all.'”
The filing also mentions that on November 12, “Schreier notified Petterson and others that Dobbs and Giuliani had ‘[s]poke about servers for the voting machines in foreign country’ on air, but that this claim had not been verified.” (Former Fox Business host Lou Dobbs' program was cancelled in February 2021, days after he was named in a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit brought by Smartmatic, another election software company targeted by Fox.) That same day, Schreier had been warned that, per the filing, Bartiromo was “sharing conspiracy theories about Dominion on Parler, to which he responded ‘I don’t know why she invites this.’”
Bartiromo continued to attack Dominion on November 17, sharing a Gateway Pundit article alleging “Mass Dumps” of votes “for Biden” on Parler, in addition to promoting her segment featuring election fraud claims from disgraced Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Beyond the posts referenced in Dominion’s filing, Bartiromo spread other election-related lies on Parler in the weeks surrounding the 2020 election.
For example, Bartimoro pushed the debunked claim that dead people had voted by the thousands in Michigan. She also shared content from the Gateway Pundit alleging that a “voter fraud training” was held in the state:
Bartimoro additionally implied that there was cheating during the election and might be during Georgia's U.S. Senate runoff election, and she shared content casting doubts about election integrity: