Even in today’s highly partisan media world, experts said, the lack of coverage about the private comments of Fox’s top executives and hosts stands out.
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By Katie Robertson and Stuart A. Thompson
Fox News and its sister network, Fox Business, have avoided the story. Newsmax and One America News, Fox’s rivals on the right, have steered clear, too. So have a constellation of right-wing websites and podcasts.
Over the past two weeks, legal filings containing private messages and testimony from Fox hosts and executives revealed that many of them had serious doubts that Democrats stole the 2020 presidential election through widespread voter fraud, even as those claims were made repeatedly on Fox’s shows. The revelations, made public in a defamation lawsuit against Fox brought by Dominion Voting Systems, have generated headlines around the world.
But in the conservative media world? Mostly crickets.
On 26 of the most popular conservative television news networks, radio shows, podcasts and websites, only four — The National Review, Townhall, The Federalist and Breitbart News — have mentioned the private messages from Fox News hosts that disparaged election fraud claims since Feb. 16, when the first batch of court filings were released publicly, according to a review by The New York Times.
The majority — 18 in all, including Fox News itself — did not cover the lawsuit at all with their own staff. (Some of those 18 published wire stories originally written by The Associated Press or other services.)
Four outlets mentioned the lawsuit in some way, but did not mention the comments from Fox News hosts. One of those, The Gateway Pundit, published three articles that included additional unfounded allegations about Dominion, including a suggestion that security vulnerabilities at one election site using Dominion machines could have led to some fraud, despite no evidence that votes were mismanaged.
“These results are shocking,” one article asserted.
The Gateway Pundit did not respond to requests for comment.
Even in a media world often divided along partisan lines, the paucity of coverage stands out, media experts said. And it means that many of the people who heard the conspiracy theories about election fraud on Fox’s networks may not be learning that Fox’s leaders and on-air stars privately dismissed those claims.
The Spread of Misinformation and Falsehoods
“Choosing not to do stories is a form of bias,” said Tom Rosenstiel, a veteran press critic and a journalism professor at the University of Maryland. “The things you ignore and the things you choose to highlight are an important part of how you show whether you are a serious news organization.”
Mainstream news organizations often report on themselves when they are at the center of a scandal, Mr. Rosenstiel said, because they get “much more credit when they expose the lens on themselves as aggressively as they would anyone else.”
Who Is Covering Dominion’s Lawsuit?
A review of 26 conservative news and opinion sources showed little coverage of Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against Fox News.
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