More than a million pages of internal Fox messages have revealed that a producer for Fox News host Tucker Carlson said that dealing with criticism from those sceptical of the election results was like “negotiating” with “especially dumb” “terrorists” who sleep with their cousins.
The files released in connection to the $1.6bn defamation lawsuit against the company by Dominion Voting Systems also revealed that Fox Corporation executive Raj Shah, who had served as a spokesman in the Trump White House before making the jump, blasted the then-president’s personal lawyer and ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani as he spoke at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee on 19 November 2020.
Mr Giuliani seemingly had black hair dye running down the side of his face as he made increasingly ludicrous claims of election fraud.
“This sounds SO F****** CRAZY btw,” Mr Shah wrote during the diatribe, a few weeks after the 2020 election.
“Rudy looks awful,” one person responded to Mr Shah.
“He objectively looks like he was a dead person voting 2 weeks ago,” Mr Shah said. One of the false claims made about the election was that dead voters had helped President Joe Biden win.
But when a Fox reporter soon after went on air and said some of what Mr Giuliani had said was “simply not true,” Mr Shah said, “this is the kinda s*** that will kill us”.
“We cover it wall to wall and then we burn that down with all the skepticism,” he added.
Fox News hosts, including Carlson, said in private that they believed the claims of fraud were false even as they amplified them on the air, the messages show.
Mr Shah was far from the only Trump staffer to move back and forth between Mr Trump’s circle and Fox, The Washington Post noted.
After Carlson had publically rebuked some of the outlandish claims pushed by lawyer Sydney Powell, which prompted pushback from her and other rightwing figures, Mr Shah texted a producer for Mr Carlson about finding a middle ground and possibly taking time on the show to address her baseless claim that she had an affidavit linking Dominion and Venezuela.
“Might wanna address this, but this stuff is so f****** insane. Vote rigging to the tune of millions? C’mon,” he wrote.
Alex Pfeiffer, a producer working for Mr Carlson at the time but who has now left Fox, wrote back that “it is so insane but our viewers believe it so addressing again how her stupid Venezuela affidavit isn’t proof might insult them”.
Mr Shah suggested that Carlson mention the affidavit, saying it was “not new info, not proof” and then “pivot to being deferential”.
Mr Pfeiffer later added: “One funny thing. Dominion was used in Ohio and Florida. Trump won them. Did they forget to rig those or all part of the plan?”
Mr Shah later asked Mr Pfeiffer if he had seen that Newsmax host Greg Kelly “came after you?”
“Yeah,” Mr Pfeiffer said. “This whole thing is surreal. Like negotiating with terrorists, but especially dumb ones. Cousin f****** types not saudi royalty.”
Three days before the Capitol riot, Mr Shah texted fellow ex-White House spokesman Josh Raffel.
Mr Raffel noted to Mr Shah that the White House public schedule was vague, simply saying that Mr Trump would be making “many calls and have many meetings” and “work from early in the morning until late in the evening”.
“I think what they meant is The President will wake up early and commit many, many crimes including but not limited to obstruction of justice, attempted fraud, and treason in an effort to conduct a coup. Then he’ll fly to a rally in furtherance of the same,” Mr Raffel wrote.
“It’s really disheartening,” Mr Shah said. “The only clear cut evidence for voter fraud is the failed attempts from Trump.”
The Independent has attempted to reach Mr Shah and Mr Raffel for comment.
Fox Corp and Mr Pfeiffer declined to comment.
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