The Dominion scandal has exposed such a wide swath of malfeasance at Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network that only a huge purge could fix it. But in all likelihood, Rupert Murdoch will try to pin the blame on one scapegoat and sweep the rest under the rug. So who will be the goat? (Bonus content: two great segments from Chris Hayes on the scandal.)
Media Matters has a comprehensive list of who should go and it includes much of the top brass at FNC and FBN. Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch deservedly top the list. They oversaw or were supposed to oversee what was going on. Rupert Murdoch, chairman of Fox Corp., the parent company of Fox News, admitted to Dominion’s lawyers that he “could have” told Fox News CEO to stop putting election liars Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell on the air but didn’t. There’s no doubt Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert’s son and Fox Corp. CEO, had the same power.
Personally, I think it’s possible Lachlan Murdoch could wind up paying some kind of price. But so far, it’s been people who told the truth who have been punished.
CNN’s Oliver Darcy makes a good case for Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott as the public sacrificial lamb, as Darcy puts it:
There is no shortage of evidence to support the notion Scott is on the chopping block. Most notably, during his deposition, Murdoch sought to distance himself from decision making at Fox News. Instead, he pointed to Scott: "I appointed Ms. Scott to the job ... and I delegate everything to her," he said. In doing so, Murdoch made the case that Scott is in charge of the network — and if there was wrongdoing, it rests on her shoulders. Of course, astute media observers know that Murdoch is the person actually calling the shots. But it's not hard to see how the company could advance this narrative.
In [previous scandals], Murdoch made the decision to sever ties with top personnel. As one source who once worked in Murdoch-world told me Wednesday, "His pattern has been to throw some money overboard and offer a head or two in the process to make it go away." And cutting ties with Scott would appear to be one of the easier ousters for Murdoch to execute over the course of his decades at the helm of one of the world's biggest media empires.
Meanwhile, the revelations continue. As jaw-dropping as the revelations have been so far, there are many redactions in both briefs. The New York Times and National Public Radio are challenging those redactions in court. It’s hard to imagine how much more damning the redacted information must be. The case is scheduled to go to trial in a little over a month, on April 17. God only knows who would testify to what. Darcy notes, “And it remains to be seen whether outside forces, such as potential shareholder lawsuits, come into play and exert added pressure on Murdoch to take action.”
Then there are the so-called "news" people, like Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. Recently, Fox host Howard Kurtz gave a hint that the non-liars at Fox want to distance themselves from the scandal - as if the whole thing didn't happen right under their noses, on national television. But it's quite possible there will be one or more high-profile departures that add to the pressure on Murdoch.
Remember when Fox said Baier and MacCallum "embody the ultimate journalistic integrity and professionalism?" That was in 2019, when the network pleaded with Democrats to hold a 2019 presidential primary debate on Fox. If either of them even halfway fits that description, they'd have walked out already. But if the scandal keeps going, who knows? In any event, Fox can toss any hope of hosting a Democratic primary this go-round. It will be lucky if it can get press passes.
It couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch.
I highly recommend Chris Hayes’ analysis of the Dominion scandal, from MSNBC’s February 28, 2023 and March 1, 2023 All In with Chris Hayes, below: