Ten days after the 2020 election, Fox News' so-called Brain Room looked into conspiracy theories that Dominion Voting Systems had rigged the presidential election against Donald Trump.
The fact-checking and research division of the network came back with a clear decision: Those claims were false. But the misinformation went on the air anyway.
Details of the Brain Room's fact-check were revealed Wednesday in newly released slides from a presentation by Dominion, which the company showed at last week's pretrial hearing in its $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corp. The slides cite internal communications and testimony.
Fox News had redacted the Brain Room findings, but the judge ordered Tuesday that they be made public.
Testimony from Fox’s own executives underscored the importance of the Brain Room’s role in verifying information that goes on the air.
“If the brain room had concluded that the charges were, in fact, false, they never should have been aired, correct?” a Dominion lawyer asked David Clark, Fox News’ senior vice president for weekend news and programming, in a deposition on Oct. 21.
“Yes,” Clark replied.
Dominion argues that it was severely damaged by claims put forward by Fox News hosts and guests suggesting the voting machine company tipped the 2020 presidential election in favor of Joe Biden.
“These documents once again demonstrate Dominion’s continued reliance on cherry-picked quotes without context to generate headlines in order to distract from the facts of this case. The foundational right to a free press is at stake and we will continue to fiercely advocate for the First Amendment in protecting the role of news organizations to cover the news," a Fox spokesperson said in a statement.
Here are more findings from the Dominion presentation:
Rupert Murdoch said Trump's claims about the election were 'pretty much a crime'
In an email to Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott on Jan. 20, 2021, Murdoch expressed his shock at Trump's insistence that the election was stolen from him.
"Trump insisting on the election being stolen and convincing 25% of Americans was a huge disservice to the country. Pretty much a crime. Inevitable it blew up Jan 6th," he wrote.
"Best we don't mention his name unless essential and certainly don't support him."
Fox News CEO said fact-checks about election claims are 'bad for business'
On Dec. 2, 2020, Scott sent an email to Meade Cooper, the executive vice president of prime-time programming, complaining about a fact-check on Trump’s voter fraud claims by Fox News anchor Eric Shawn. Scott said she was worried it would alienate viewers.
“This has to stop now,” Scott wrote. “The audience is furious and we are just feeding them material. Bad for business.”
The email was originally redacted by Fox News but released publicly Wednesday.
A Fox News spokesperson said Wednesday that Scott was not opposing fact-checking itself. “This is not about fact checking — the issue at hand is one host calling out another," the spokesperson said.
'None of that is true as far as we can tell'
Another slide reveals a previously redacted text exchange between host Bret Baier and Fox News President Jay Wallace, in which Baier asks on Nov. 5, “How is that ok? None of that is true as far as we can tell.”
“We need to fact check this crap. It would help us,” Wallace replied.
'We have to go to a full on war'
The day before Fox News host Maria Bartiromo put Sidney Powell on the air in a lengthy interview centering on election conspiracy theories, Bartiromo wrote her producer a frenzied email.
"We have to go to a full on war. They have used all systems to defraud," she wrote. "The country needs to survive. We have to keep this president. Noone thinks anyway that people voted for Biden."
In fragmented claims, she said that the fraud was "sophisticated" and that Dominion voting machines "adds on thousands of votes."
"Evidence- yes we have," she said, noting there were photos of a man sticking thumb drives in voting machines.
"Nancy pelosi has an interest in it. It's also directed by Soros," she added.