Lou's Views

Dominion and Smartmatic suits against Fox News
Rupert Murdoch

People who think with their kneecaps (or, as I’ll argue later, the vestiges of their pre-human salamander brains) may confuse my utter disdain of Fox News with some sort of political bias. But for the many times I’ve written about Faux and the evils of Roger Ailes (who can’t turn over in his grave as he died an obese pig and tumescent pervert), for me, it’s a simple calculus you can plot on the X-axis of a third grader’s math class graph. That is: Fox News has zero commitment to telling the truth as a bedrock value and gleefully trades in lies, misstatements and incendiary commentary that puts innocent people at risk.

Why, just today I read a story about how Tucker Carlson’s brutal broadsides and poisonous platform against NBC journalist Brandy Zadrozny required her to hire bodyguards for two weeks. She was just doing her work on a story about conspiracy theories against Hunter Biden proffered on right-wing websites. Zadrozny wanted to talk to a former speechwriter for Donald Trump named Darren Beattie, alleged to have authored some pieces. That’s it.

Clearly pissed, Beattie went on Carlson’s Fox show and began an unbridled rant. People who think with their reptile brains use the emotional pitch of their complaints to make a point. The high art of Trumpism is playing the bully and victim at once. No matter. Carlson not only spotlighted the vitriol, he added to it. He posted a huge-ass photo of Zadrozny for viewers to see, just in case the would-be death threat goons missed the point.

Now: Do you think Carlson cares that a real journalist needed protection from the kind of intimidation Vladimir Putin or the Proud Boys would be proud of? Nah. Hasn’t said a word or uttered an apology.

Wait: Is that laughter coming from Carlson’s dressing room?

The game’s afoot in the mouth

This is Fox’s game: insinuate, insult and obfuscate. It is not a game serious media denizens play. But Fox defiantly calls all this protected speech under the First Amendment. Interesting.

Dig: You’d see Carlson backpedal faster than a frightened fiddler crab should his behavior become the target of a lawsuit. Those who trade in fear are often the most fearful of all once exposed to the light. This brings us to the intolerable behavior of Fox News stalwarts who smeared the reputation of Dominion Voting Systems. Sued in response by Dominion, Fox backpedalled by firing Lou Dobbs, a move they never would’ve made otherwise. (Two other Fox hosts, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, are also mentioned in the lawsuit.)

The problem for Fox is that the Dominion legal action is not about to vanish.

Dominion’s $1.6 billion lawsuit alleges that Fox dished “baseless conspiracy theories” that the election was stolen from former President Trump in an effort to boost its ratings. Were the theories indeed baseless? We don’t need a court of law to conclude: Absolutely. Legal chambers all the way up to the conservative-dominated Supreme Court wouldn’t hear them. WITHOUT MERIT, they proclaimed like a chorus in Greek comedy, maybe Oedipus Fox.

Is this voter-fraud fraud irresponsible behavior? Fox would like to hide behind the First Amendment. I call bullshit. We all know better as journalists than to throw unsubstantiated claims at the audience, put them in an echo chamber and hit puree.

You do that at a high school paper and you get suspended, maybe expelled. You do that at Fox and you get promoted.

Foxy went a-courtin’: Enter suit number two

The only real debate here is whether Fox will somehow hold its own in court. And they’re taking this case seriously. Just this week, Fox confirmed it has hired two superstar defense attorneys, Charles Babcock and Scott Keller. They’ve represented everyone from Warren Buffett to Oprah Winfrey. Even CNN.

Ah, but that’s not the only court battle coming Fox’s way for the same exact behavior. Another election technology company, Smartmatic, has sued Fox for defamation to the tune of even more: $2.7 billion. This spells heavy duty trouble. Consider this statement from a brief filed in New York State Supreme Court by Smartmatic’s lawyer, J. Erik Connolly. It’s instructive from both legal and media points of view:

“The First Amendment does not provide the Fox defendants a get-out-of-jail-free card. [They] do not get a do-over with their reporting now that they have been sued.”

Taken as a whole, these suits total roughly $4.3 billion in potential damage for Fox. This represents close to 20 percent of the net worth of Rupert Murdoch, the overlord of News Corp., Fox’s parent company. Who is an interesting character indeed, as he arguably has had more to do with powering the conservative media’s forays into pugilistic truth bending than anyone living or dead.

Rupert Murdoch and the dark side of the farce

The Australian-born 90-year-old conservative mastermind and pocketbook behind Fox looks an awful lot like Emperor Palpatine in a smart suit. And money floats his boat, mate. When Fox political editor Chris Stirewalt defended the network’s solid journalism in making a presidential election call for Joe Biden in Arizona, Murdoch rewarded him by showing him the door. Why? Fox viewers got so angry, they ran screaming into the arms of One America News Network and Newsmax. Funny that they use “news” in their names. The word “news” should sue them for libel.

Anyway, the defections cost Murdoch money and he loves money more than the truth. Stirewalt was right. The facts held up. But Emperor Palpatine Murdoch doesn’t care about America, American journalism or the truth. He cares about winning. He cares about numbers. He cares about money. And like the Joker, he loves to watch things burn, like civil discourse and consensus in politics. End of story.

Think about it. Two high-profile firings–one to keep Fox viewers from abandoning ship, the other to deflect the harsh glare of an ominous lawsuit. The smell of money, people. It stinks like a fox’s canis lupus anus.

Well, now Murdoch has a whole new set of numbers to fuss about: $4.3 billion of them. And the poetic justice in all of this is that Dominion and Smartmatic have made it very clear that they’re not after tidy out-of-court settlements. They intend to see their suits, and other ones against far-right networks, through to the very end.

It is one thing for Fox to try an election, and prosecute a private company, in the kangaroo court of public opinion.

But in real courts of law, there is no Lou Dobbs or Roger Ailes or Nazi propaganda master or Russian dictator or serial liar to Frankenstein together a beehive’s worth of buzzy lies into the sweet honey of truth. There is only the truth, as there should be at any media outlet.

If you get it wrong–as we all do from time to time–it should be because somewhere along the line, best intentions to tell the truth broke down. And not because dark intentions to dress up lies as the truth got exposed.

Did Fox succumb to the latter? To borrow from the network’s motto, the witnesses and documents will report. The judge and jury will decide.

Lou Carlozo is Qwoted’s Editor In Chief. All opinions expressed prove the election that put him in power was rigged. Email lou@qwoted.com or connect on LinkedIn.