Sean Hannity even sent a threat to top management after a reporter tweeted the truth about the 2020 election.
I’ve previously written that the Dominion defamation lawsuit filings revealed that Tucker Carlson tried to get Fox reporter Jacqui Heinrich fired for tweeting that “top election infrastructure officials” said that “‘There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.’”
It turns out the enmity was way worse than that, and not just for Heinrich.
In a Rolling Stone excerpt of his forthcoming book, Brian Stelter wrote about responses to Carlson’s call for Heinrich’s firing.
Hannity said he had already sent the tweet to Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott. Carlson kept riling him up: “Why would we allow some 27-year-old fake reporter to wreck our network?” Hannity said he was making a drink and going to bed, but not before he sent Heinrich’s tweet to his top producers, along with a question (more accurately, an ugly threat): “Do they not realize I like to fight and the damage I can do here?”
Executive producer Robert Samuel responded that it’s “amazing” how many Fox staffers seem to “hate” the audience. “You don’t have to love Trump,” he wrote, “but you have to respect the audience.” Tiffany Fazio weighed in with a “WTF” and said “they better get the ‘news division’ under control.” So many Fox “News” officials delighted in disparaging their “news” division.
By now it was well after midnight. Porter Berry replied-all: “She’s a huge lib and I’ve been raising this issue for weeks. It’s insane. She’s like a Jim Acosta type character. Bad news bears. She needs to be pulled off political coverage.”
But it was not just Heinrich. In a text chain, Laura Ingraham responded, “Good,” when Hannity said the news division “hate, hate, hate all 3 of us,” meaning himself, Ingraham and Carlson. Carlson replied, “They’re pathetic. [That is] why they’re so angry.” And more:
Hannity said “they,” seemingly referring to Heinrich and her fact-cabal on the news side, “destroyed a brand that took 25 years to build.” Carlson called it “vandalism.” Hannity joked about a “prime time walk out” — or maybe it wasn’t a joke. Ingraham jumped on the idea on Friday the 13th [of November, 2020] and said the reason for a walk-out could be “fraud in the inducement” — a form of contract fraud. “When we signed,” she said, “they sold the network as a conservative alternative. It is now the opposite and is actually hurting ALL of our established individual brands.”
In my previous post, I wrote about how Stelter traced the seeds of the Big Lie to Fox News. In a subsequent interview on CNN, Stelter explained to anchor Kaitlan Collins that it was no accident:
STELTER: I realized there's a story here [in the Dominion defamation lawsuit filings] that needs to be pieced together to explain how this happened. It was a choice. It was choices people made. Rupert Murdoch chose to sit back and act like a bystander instead of leading and actually managing his company. That meant that Sean Hannity, the likes of Sean Hannity, were actually in charge, and they were the ones that were spreading misinformation. I would argue that misinformation has hurt Trump. It has hurt the Republican Party. It has hurt them at the ballot box in elections.
Lachlan Murdoch, too, along with the rest of top Fox management, let it happen. In his Reliable Sources newsletter, CNN’s Oliver Darcy provided more from the Stelter book:
On Lachlan's management style: Stelter describes Lachlan, who has spent a considerable amount of time in Australia, as a landlord who is "often several time zones away" from his properties and "dependent on the property managers to keep tabs on things." In terms of management style, Stelter quotes an insider who told him, "Lachlan is protecting profits and minimizing headaches."
Unfortunately for Lachlan and his network, that attitude caused a $787.5 million Dominion-settlement headache; a similar-to-Dominion lawsuit by Smartmatic, for $2.7 billion; shareholder lawsuits; another defamation suit by Tucker Carlson target Ray Epps; and the headache of Stelter’s forthcoming book.
Sadly, it looks like Hannity, et al. will remain the de facto leaders of Fox. After the huge Dominion settlement, Lachlan Murdoch said, "The settlement in no way alters Fox’s commitment to the highest journalistic standards across our company or our passion for unabashedly reporting the news of the day. We’re proud of our Fox News team, the exceptional quality of their journalism, and their stewardship of the Fox News brand."
About a month after the Dominion settlement, Fox laid off its Investigative Unit.
You can watch Stelter on CNN’s November 10, 2023 The Source with Kaitlan Collins below, via Media Matters.