Feb 24, 2023

Fox News gets caught.

Tucker Carlson speaking with attendees at the 2018 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA. Image: Gage Skidmore
Tucker Carlson speaking with attendees at the 2018 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA. Image: Gage Skidmore 

A new court filing reveals damning internal messages between Fox bigwigs.

I’m Isaac Saul, and this is Tangle: an independent, nonpartisan, subscriber-supported politics newsletter that summarizes the best arguments from across the political spectrum on the news of the day — then “my take.”

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It's common for primetime television pundits on both sides to mislead their audiences. But it is not very common to actually get the receipts.

That's precisely what happened last week after Dominion Voting Systems, in its $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, entered a new court filing for the record. The filing, which is a remarkable, though heavily redacted 200-page document, included jaw-dropping text messages between some of Fox's biggest names.

Before we get into exactly what was in those text messages, I want to be clear about why this deserves an entire Tangle edition. Fox News is the largest and most influential single television network in America — one that shapes not just what we all talk about in the political space, but how the Republican base (and Republican politicians) think about certain divisive issues.

As I've explained before, media bias takes many forms. It's rarely as simple as a reporter who has strong political views injecting those positions into their story. Sometimes editors are biased in story selection, or businesses toward trying to drive clicks, or sources that journalists cite, or the journalists themselves through ignoring facts that would undercut the narrative of a story.

When I started Tangle, it was meant to be an alternative to the options we had out there for consuming politics — one that offered more balance and nuance than any other single source by intentionally including opinions from across the spectrum.

Fox, too, was once a response to the media landscape. It was meant to be, and in some ways still is, the only cable news network that gives conservatives the kind of news they want. It's the only place on cable where you can find reliably conservative pundits dominating a primetime line-up. With the premier legacy cable news outlets — like CNN and MSNBC — having obvious left-leaning slants, Fox News was meant to be a home for something different.

Unfortunately, that mission — one where the network was trying to offer its viewers a take on the news that would help balance the ecosystem — has morphed into something far uglier.

Which is where this Dominion Voting Systems filing comes in.