What Else is Fox News Lying About?
Plus more Lab Leak Theory™ fun.
Happy Friday everyone. Spoiler: This is a pre-written Jackal because I am out of pocket today. But I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to talk about Fox News, even if the shelf life on this story is fading.
The last Jackal was kind of ill-timed, because even though I think covering the grifters is important, I missed a pretty big news story. Three-ish weeks ago, Dominion Voting Systems dropped a massive legal brief in its defamation case against Fox News.
If you want to read the brief in full, you can find it here. Long story short, it is incredible. I mean, this is how it starts off:
Here is what happened: Dominion Voting Systems is a huge provider of voting machines in the U.S., and has has had their machines used in various different elections across the country. Leading up to the 2016 election, they were the second-largest provider of machines, with around 28 states using their machines in their elections.
Given that, it wasn’t surprising that a lot of their machines were used in the 2020 election. After Trump’s loss in the 2020 election, Dominion (for whatever reason) immediately became a target of pro-Trump conspiracy theories, which alleged that Biden/The Democrats/Satan were using the machines to commit election fraud and hand Trump’s victory over to Biden.
Fox News spread a lot of these allegations in the aftermath of the 2020 election, but other channels like NewsMax and OAN helped out too. The allegations had a real effect on Dominion, who claim in their suits to be losing out on millions of dollars of business because lots of local governments who previously used their services will not even touch them with a thirty foot poll (get it? Poll instead of pole! Bury me in the Dad joke cemetery).
The Dominion allegations largely center around a woman named Sidney Powell, who had the most insane conspiracy theories about the election. What’s wild about Dominion’s brief is that - through the text messages they acquired - we can see that Powell herself was pretty skeptical of what she was saying on TV every night. She described her source as “pretty wackadoodle,” which is a mild way of putting when you read the emails. The unidentified woman that Powell used as a source said that Justice Scalia was “purposefully killed at the annual Bohemian Grove camp…during a weeklong human hunting expedition,” and that she has had “the strangest dreams since I was a little girl…I was internally decapitated, and yet, I live…The Wind tells me I’m a ghost, but I don’t believe it.” This woman - or ghost - was Powell’s source for the lies about Dominion, and somehow they made it onto the nightly broadcast of a “news” network.
Shortly after the election, Fox News made a big decision: Even though they knew Biden had beaten Trump fair and square and that Sidney Powell was lying, they opted to double-down on the election lies because they were watching their viewers flee in real time to other networks like Newsmax and OAN (Dominion also has suits ongoing against those networks and if Dominion wins, it is unlikely that either network survives because they are so much smaller than Fox). For instance, here is what Maria Bartiromo (if you’re unfamiliar, think Fran Drescher’s character from The Nanny, but drop the IQ by about 50 points) had Powell say on her show:
In private, Bartiromo called Powell “kooky.” In short, every Fox News host knew the stories they were pushing about the election being "stolen" were lies. Tucker Carlson called Sidney Powell a liar, even though he repeatedly had her on his show. Sean Hannity tried to say he did not believe the lies about the election for even "one second." Privately, they called Rudy Giuliani a joke, while publicly they hosted him on their shows.
Why did Fox News do this? Carlson actually said it best (again, in private). When a reporter for Fox News, Jacqui Heinrich, tweeted that there was "no evidence" of voter fraud, Carlson texted Hannity: "Please get her fired. Seriously...What the fuck? I'm actually shocked...It needs to stop immediately, like tonight. It's measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke." Hannity forwarded the tweet to a Fox News executive, Susan Scott, and just said, “Really?” To sum it up: The Fox News opinion heads were bad-mouthing one of their own reporters.
Heinrich eventually deleted the tweet, which is a really sad and depressing story to tell about a journalist who is just trying to do her job (and Heinrich is good at her job). But Carlson did this while also openly saying in private that he knew Powell was lying. He was even so incensed about it, he called Powell a “fucking bitch.” Carlson lamented, saying that Fox’s viewers were “good people” and that the network’s programming was conditioning them to believe the lies. So the question is, why didn’t Tucker do anything about it? Instead, he seemed to double down.
He continues to do that now. Another big story that was in the news this week was that the Department of Energy has apparently determined that the most likely origin for COVID-19 was a lab leak out of China. That is pretty big news, and it was a major scoop for the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story. But let’s look at Jonathan Katz’s piece, which addressed Tucker’s reaction to the news:
Tucker Carlson just flat-out lied, telling his viewers that the Biden administration had determined that “corona leaked from the China lab.” This was done, he said, with a level of malice that would be hard for “a middle-class Christian American” to imagine. He added: “In fact, one of the very first things we knew about COVID was that it was an engineered virus that escaped somehow, intentionally or not, from a Chinese military biolab in Wuhan.” I probably don’t have to tell you that was all bullshit. But I will anyway. For one, there is nothing in there about a “Chinese military biolab” in the WSJ story. In fact, the WSJ flatly refuted that entire line of speculation, noting: “the update reaffirmed an existing consensus … that Covid-19 wasn’t the result of a Chinese biological-weapons program, the people who have read the classified report said.”
Just total, outright lies spewed to a believing audience of “good people.” Tucker may say that, but he clearly doesn’t believe it, because he is more than content to lie to them. Here is one of the wildest parts of Dominion’s brief:
“This type of conspiratorial reporting might be exactly what the disgruntled [Fox News Channel] viewer is looking for.” Feed them more lies. Keep them angry and disgruntled. “Do not ever give viewers a reason to turn us off.” Fox News may call itself a “news” channel, but WWE also calls itself “wrestling,” and anyone can tell you there is a difference between WWE and real wrestling. The difference there, however, is that the WWE audience is in on the joke.
If you want to know what your humble fabulous thought about the lab leak theory way back in May of 2020, you can listen to this podcast, but tl;dl: I said that it could have leaked from the lab, or it could have emerged from the wet markets, but it wasn’t really clear. Years later (and if you have followed The Jackal for long enough, you know this) I am still on the fence, although pieces like Katz’s above have me leaning slightly more towards a zoonotic origin.
I’ve gotta run, but we’ll return next week. As a final should-read, I previously linked to a story from an employee at a gender transition clinic. I said that the employee’s story shocked me. Well, it turns out that there are a lot of issues with it, so read this follow-up.