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What Would Nellis Say?

Lying for Dollars - March 2023

The demise of Fox
Lying for Dollars


Lawyers for Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit revealed a trove of more than a million emails and internal communications and explicit depositions that expose Rupert Murdock and top Fox Corp executives’ complete disregard for truth in favor of a full-throttle barrage of blatantly false commentary supporting Trump’s ‘big lie’ to salvage tanking corporate profits. 


When network statisticians called Arizona for Biden and ultimately the election in 2020, Fox viewers, addicted to perpetual propaganda of outrage, changed the channel en-masse and advertising revenues plunged. The company reacted in a panic to protect its brand with absolutely no regard for truth or facts or the decision of the voters. The two statisticians who made the correct call on the Arizona race before other networks were fired a few days after the election.


(Fox collected approximately $400 million in advertising revenue in 2021 but the real gold mine was their licensing agreements with satellite and cable companies that handed over $1.07 billion for the rights to broadcast Fox’s programming, so maintaining their audience was critical to their corporate survival.)


Murdock testified that after the election, Fox was "trying to straddle the line between spewing conspiracy theories on one hand, yet calling out the fact that they are actually false on the other."


By then, their on-air “personalities” were off and running with the phony narrative of massive fraud and hacked voting machines and featured guests like Trump’s consiglieri Rudy Giuliani, conspiracy theorist and MyPillow guy, Mike Lindell (who purchased almost a quarter of Fox advertising slots in exchange for being a regularly featured guest on all their primetime programs), and quack attorney Sidney Powell peddling absurd allegations without offering any proof to back them up. 


In the landmark Supreme Court decision in the New York Times v Sullivan case, the court established that the right to publish is protected under the First Amendment and that, in order to prove libel, it must be shown that published statements were made with actual malice – that is, with the knowledge that they were false or published with reckless disregard for the truth.


Everyone at the network knew that Trump’s claims were without merit but, as Murdock testified, the final decision to allow the mockery of journalism to continue for years was not a matter of “blue or red” but “green” the color of money. It was a simple choice between corporate greed and an obligation to tell the truth to save the nation from a Constitutional nightmare. When asked under oath whether he could have exerted some control over the false narrative being promoted by his network, he replied, “I could have…but I didn’t.”


Not that there was any doubt that Fox ever qualified as a legitimate news network since its inception. It evolved, from the first broadcast in 1986 as an entertainment network into a bullhorn for vomiting lies and misinformation to hook a gullible audience into accepting indoctrination into the enraged fake-conspiracy world of the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party.


Murdock’s News Corporation owns more than 800 companies in 50 countries, including Sky News Australia, and Sky Broadcasting in Europe, which publish and transmit the same brand of hateful divisive propaganda in support of extreme right-wing policies and candidates. None of his holdings has ever been accused of providing editorial truth or facts for their audiences.


Real Journalism is defined as “the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information”. 


The “elements of journalism” are:


            • Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth…

            • Its first loyalty is to citizens…

            • Its essence is a discipline of verification

            • Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover…

            • It must serve as an independent monitor of power…

(American Press Institute)


The entire power structure of Fox Corp and the on-air propagandists on Fox “News” trampled every one of these “elements” as a matter of cultural policy. 


Throughout the 2020 campaign, Murdock and Jared Kushner spoke on the phone several times a day and Murdock admits to giving his young “friend” access to Biden’s election ads before they were broadcast as well as his strategy notes for the debates. Fox abandoned objectivity to cash in on the financial windfall of being a media megaphone for Trump’s quixotic crusade and rallying his extremist clan by flooding the nation with hours of deceptions all day, every day, and they continue unabated. 


Months of constant publicity has value and according to the Federal Election Committee: 

“An in-kind contribution is a non-monetary contribution. Goods or services offered free or at less than the usual charge result in an in-kind contribution. Similarly, when a person or entity pays for services on the committee’s behalf, the payment is an in-kind contribution. An expenditure made by any person or entity in cooperation, consultation or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate’s campaign is also considered an in-kind contribution to the candidate.

The value of an in-kind contribution—the usual and normal charge—counts against the contribution limit as a gift of money does. Additionally, like any other contribution, in-kind contributions count against the contributor’s limit for the next election, unless they are otherwise designated.”

In an attempt to defend Tucker Carlson against accusations of slander in another case, Fox’s lawyers stated in court that Carlson “is not stating actual facts about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in ‘exaggeration’ and ‘non-literal commentary’. They claim that “you can’t expect to literally believe the words that come out of his mouth.” He is merely the most notorious hypocrite at the center of a network of liars.


Carlson claims that his recent release of a thoroughly censored edit of the videos from the House of Representatives security cameras (which were handed over exclusively, without restriction or oversight, by his top toady Speaker Kevin McCarthy) “proves” that the violent mob that invaded the Capital on January 6th were perfectly well-behaved tourists caught up in occasional “peaceful chaos”. 


Obviously, he failed to include any of the other 43,999 hours of video, that would have left no doubt as to who smeared the walls of our Congress with human feces, why there was more than $1.5 million in physical damages, why more than 150 Congressional police officers were taken to the hospital with serious injuries, or why seven people died. 


While the Federal Communications Commission is prohibited from engaging in censorship or infringing on First Amendment rights of the press, it is illegal for broadcasters to intentionally distort the news. Unfortunately, the powers of the FCC only apply to the broadcast medium. They have no authority to enforce their rules against newspapers, social media platforms, or satellite or cable transmissions.


Murdock set up his network on UHF frequencies and cable, which the FCC does not oversee, to avoid interference from any government authority, ensuring that HIS propaganda network would never be restrained by facts or truth. Considering what everyone has known about the constant flow of misinformation from Fox since its inception, recent revelations might warrant a re-examination of those rules, if and when the voters who value democracy remove the Republican extremists, so Congress can begin the work of protecting our democracy.


While there are numerous lawsuits against Fox and almost every one of their on-air “personalities” for defamation and slander, Dominion and Smartmatic’s combined suits totaling more than $4 billion might actually ravage Fox finances. Those totals do not include potential punitive penalties that will be decided by the judges in these cases, which could and should bankrupt Murdock’s criminal network.


In the released documents, witnesses admitted that just about everything the network broadcast about the election, the claims of voter fraud, and the Congressional insurrection was a gigantic fabrication to provide what their delusional audience wanted to hear. Their motivation was supporting the Republican Party’s desperate attempt to hold on to power and to fortify the teetering financial foundations of Fox Corp and their personal stock options.


Fox is not now and never was a “news” network. The entire enterprise is, by their own admission in testimony and this mass of internal documents, completely corrupt. The network violated an impressive list of laws that should result in massive fines, arrests, and a blizzard of civil lawsuits. Their on-air “personalities” plundered the trust of their audience and tainted the meaning of truth. With the hope that we can resurrect a real democracy, Fox and any other media owned or controlled by Murdock should be banned from publishing or broadcasting in this country.

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