- Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity discussed trying to have a Fox reporter fired for a fact-checking tweet.
- The Fox News commentators took issue with the reporter’s rejection of Trump’s 2020 election lies.
- A new court filing in Dominion Voting Systems’ lawsuit again Fox includes troves of text messages.
Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity discussed trying to have a Fox News reporter fired in November 2020 after she publicly pushed back against then-President Donald Trump’s election lies, according to a new court filing.
A 200-page motion for summary judgment in Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against Fox News released Thursday includes several deposition excerpts, as well as texts from top Fox News figures, including anchors Carlson, Hannity, and owner Rupert Murdoch, detailing the panic and acrimony permeating Fox News in the aftermath of Trump’s loss to then-Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Fox News was the first network to call Biden’s win in Arizona on November 3, 2020, setting off fury and fear among Fox employees after several Trump allies eviscerated the network for its projection, according to the court documents. Carlson worried in text messages, cited in the motion for summary judgment, that the call would destroy Fox’s “credibility,” suggesting to a producer that Trump could “easily destroy us if we play it wrong.”
In the days following the election, the network’s coverage became increasingly focused on Dominion Voting Systems as Trump and others in his camp spread baseless allegations about voting machine fraud, according to court documents and prior reporting.
On November 12, 2020, in a group chat between Carlson, Hannity, and commentator Laura Ingraham, cited in the court documents, Carlson zeroed in on a tweet from Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich in which she fact-checked a Trump tweet that mentioned Dominion and previous Fox News coverage about the voting machines.
The Dominion document released Thursday notes that Heinrich “accurately fact-checked the tweet,” pointing out that top election officials had said there was no evidence of any voting systems deleting, losing, or changing votes in the election.
Carlson and Hannity apparently did not take kindly to her public rejection of Trump’s messaging.
“Please get her fired. Seriously…What the fuck?” Carlson wrote in a text to his colleagues, according to the filing. “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 responded saying he had already sent Heinrich’s tweet to Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott with a “really?”
After receiving Hannity’s message about Heinrich’s tweet, Scott wrote in a message to Fox News President Jay Wallace and Fox News Senior Executive Vice President of Corporate Communications Irena Briganti: “Sean texted me — he’s standing down on responding but not happy about this and doesn’t understand how this is allowed to happen from anyone in news,” according to the court filing.
“She has serious nerve doing this and if this gets picked up, viewers are going to be further disgusted,” Scott wrote of Heinrich, according to the filing.
By the following morning, Heinrich had deleted her fact-checking tweet, the motion said.
Heinrich did not respond to Insider’s request for comment, and a representative for Fox News declined to answer specific questions about the incident. In a statement to Insider, however, Briganti, a spokesperson for the company, said Dominion had “cherry-picked quotes stripped of key context.”
“There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners, but the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by New York Times v. Sullivan,” the statement said.
2/16/2023: This story has been updated to reflect Irena Briganti’s correct title of senior EVP of corporate communications at Fox News.