March 22, 2023

New York

Fox News staffers are in the dark and vexed as the right-wing talk channel remains ensnared in one of the worst scandals of its 26-year history — and arguably the most consequential media scandal in modern American history.

“There has been nothing” communicated to staff from the company’s management or human resources over Dominion Voting Systems’ mammoth $1.6 billion lawsuit against the network, one longtime Fox News staffer told me Wednesday evening. “Nothing. No communication.”

“People are really shocked and disgusted,” the staffer said of the damaging and embarrassing national headlines emanating from the lawsuit that have become a daily drumbeat in recent weeks. “Even longtime staffers. You would think after all we’ve been through nothing could surprise us. But this is unprecedented.”

That was echoed to me over the last 48 hours by several other employees at Fox News. “I haven’t seen anything [communicated],” another Fox News staffer told me. “I haven’t heard a thing,” said yet another. Those who work for the channel, the people I spoke to said, are effectively expected to show up to work as usual and pretend that everything is normal.

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Many of those employees are thirsty for information about the case and privately discussing the revelations among themselves. And in lieu of the network’s management providing status updates to its employees about the looming trial in Dominion’s lawsuit, staffers are intensely curious about where things stand.

In fact, some Fox News staffers have even reached out to me, looking for information on the case and asking for insight into their own network. One high-profile Fox News personality asked me, for instance, where they could access the revealing raw exhibits that were released this week in the lawsuit by the voting technology company.

Those exhibits contained a trove of damning private text messages, emails, and deposition transcripts that showed — in black and white — that Fox News hosts, like Tucker Carlson, were saying one thing on camera to the channel’s millions of loyal viewers while privately believing something entirely different.

The cache of documents also showed talk hosts like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham repeatedly disparage the small handful of journalists left at the network who are trying to honestly report the news. The new information has inflamed tensions between the two divisions, people I spoke to said.

“The opinion folks are probably right in that there really isn’t a lot of love lost between us and them,” one Fox News journalist told me.

The court documents showed that Fox executives, such as Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch and Suzanne Scott, were far less concerned with delivering hard truths about the election to their audience and far more worried about keeping their audience locked in a pro-MAGA safe space.

The messages revealed that some of the channel’s most high-profile messengers were effectively paid actors playing the part to juice the network’s ratings. And they have made it clear that at its core the network is not a news organization. It is a point that I have been making for some time — and it’s one that a second senior Fox staffer encouraged me to continue driving home.

“You’re not wrong,” the staffer candidly told me Wednesday, “and I think you should keep saying it.”

Asked for comment, a Fox News spokesperson pointed to the network’s previous public statements accusing Dominion of cherry-picking quotes to generate headlines.


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