Rupert Murdoch called Trump’s Jan. 6 actions ‘pretty much a crime,’ court doc says

Rupert Murdoch.
Rupert Murdoch.
(Amanda Edwards / WireImage)

Rupert Murdoch’s disdain for former President Trump’s actions after the 2020 election came out again in evidence presented in the $1.6-billion defamation suit against Fox News.

“Trump insisting on the election being stolen and convincing 25% of Americans was a huge disservice to the country,” Murdoch wrote to Fox News Media Chief Executive Suzanne Scott, according to recently unredacted evidence. “Pretty much a crime. Inevitable it blew up on Jan. 6th.”

Murdoch, the executive chairman of Fox Corp., also acknowledged in his deposition testimony given in January that he told Scott to stop putting Trump on the network.


That ban has since ended as Trump, who is leading in most polls for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, gave a lengthy interview to Fox News host Sean Hannity that is running in multiple parts this week.

Murdoch’s comments surfaced in a slide deck of points by Dominion Voting Systems that were made public this week in its lawsuit against Fox. The presentation included a number of statements and communications by executives at Fox News and its parent company that were previously redacted.

Dominion, a maker of voting machines, claims Fox News deliberately ran Trump’s false allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election to placate its viewers, who were fleeing the network in anger over how it called the state of Arizona for then-candidate Joe Biden.

Guests on Fox News made false claims about Dominion’s ownership and said its machines manipulated votes to favor Biden. Fox News has maintained that the allegations were newsworthy and that its reporting is protected by the 1st Amendment.

“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,” a Fox News representative said in a statement.

Evidence and depositions filed in the case — expected to go to trial in mid-April — have revealed deep misgivings among executives, producers and hosts about Trump’s assertions, while expressing concerns that denouncing them completely would turn off its audience.


The evidence revealed in the slide deck also included documentation from the “brain room” — a research unit within Fox News — that alerted executives and producers that there was no evidence of voter fraud. The unit made clear that claims made by Trump’s lawyers about Dominion’s machines flipping votes from Trump to Biden were false.

The host of ‘Sunday Morning Futures’ and morning host for Fox Business Network figures prominently in Dominion’s claims that the network lied about election fraud.

March 9, 2023

Trump’s camp said Dominion deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide and switched Trump votes to Biden votes in several key states.

“Election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed there were no irregularities,” according to one memo from the research group.

David Clark, senior vice president for weekend programming and news at Fox News, agreed in his deposition that the brain room said the Dominion charges were false and never should have run.

But Trump’s legal team of Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, who amplified the claims without evidence, continued to appear on Fox News and Fox Business Network after the fact-checks were provided.

A Nov. 30, 2021, message from Fox News producer Alexander Hooper said “any day with Rudy and Sidney is guaranteed gold,” referring to the ratings lift Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs would get when the lawyers were booked as guests.


Even Tucker Carlson, the most strident prime-time host on Fox News, expressed his disgust with Powell and her inability to back up her claims. In a Nov. 17, 2020, message to Powell, Carlson told her it was “reckless and cruel” to keep presenting the allegations without hard evidence.

“You keep telling our viewers that millions of votes were changed by the software,” Carlson wrote. “I hope you will prove that very soon. if you don’t have conclusive evidence of fraud at that scale, it’s a cruel and reckless thing to keep saying.”

On Nov. 21, 2020, Carlson wrote to Trump attorney Jenna Ellis and told her that it was “shockingly reckless” to keep making the allegations about Dominion using software to manipulate votes without providing evidence.

In a text to an unknown recipient, Carlson — who expressed skepticism about Powell on his program — said it was a “shame we have to pretend the case has any shot at all.”

Anchor Maria Bartiromo, who had Sidney and Giuliani as guests on her “Sunday Morning Futures” show three times after the election was called for Biden, was told by then-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Nov. 6, 2020, that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud and that the Democratic victory was fair.