Fox News blocked Trump from on-air call during the Capitol riot because it would be ‘irresponsible’

Fox News and parent company being sued for $1.6bn by Dominion Voting Systems over election claims

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Saturday 18 February 2023 21:12 GMT
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Fox News blocked Donald Trump from making an on-air call during the January 6 attack by his supporters on the US Capitol.

Mr Trump called into the Lou Dobbs show on Fox Business after the deadly riot, according to court filings in the $1.6bn defamation case brought by Dominion Voting Systems against the network.

“The afternoon of January 6, after the Capitol came under attack, then-President Trump dialed into Lou Dobbs’ show attempting to get on air,” Dominion lawyers wrote in their legal brief.

“But Fox executives vetoed that decision,” Dominion’s filing continued. “Why? Not because of a lack of newsworthiness. January 6 was an important event by any measure. President Trump not only was the sitting President, he was the key figure that day.”

The court filing states that Fox Business Network President Lauren Petterson refused Mr Trump because “it would be irresponsible to put him on the air” and “could impact a lot of people in a negative way.”

According to CNN, sources say that the House select committee that investigated January 6 did not know about the call from Mr Trump.

Fox News has denied all wrongdoing and are fighting Dominion’s defamation lawsuit.

In a 192-page court filing published on Thursday containing private messages from many of Fox’s biggest stars, Dominion argues: “From the top down, Fox knew ‘the Dominion stuff’ was ‘total bs’.”

“Yet despite knowing the truth – or at minimum, recklessly disregarding that truth – Fox spread and endorsed these ‘outlandish voter fraud claims’ about Dominion even as it internally recognised the lies as ‘crazy’, ‘absurd’ and ‘shockingly reckless’,” the filing said.

Attorneys for Fox, however, have argued that Dominion has advanced only “novel defamation theories” and is seeking a “staggering” figure in damages aimed at winning headlines, silencing protected speech and enriching its owner, Staple Street Capital Partners, and its investors.

“Dominion brought this lawsuit to punish the Fox News Network for reporting on one of the biggest stories of the day – allegations by the sitting president of the United States and his surrogates that the 2020 election was affected by fraud,” the company stated in a counterclaim.

In a statement to The Independent, Fox added: “There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners, but the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by New York Times v. Sullivan.

“Dominion has mischaracterized the record, cherry-picked quotes stripped of key context, and spilled considerable ink on facts that are irrelevant under black-letter principles of defamation law.”

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