One-fifth of Fox News viewers trust network less after Dominion lawsuit revelations

FILE – A headline about President Donald Trump is displayed outside Fox News studios in New York on Nov. 28, 2018. A voting technology company suing Fox News is arguing that Fox Corp. leaders Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch played a leading role in deciding to air false claims that the technology helped “steal” the 2020 presidential election from former President Donald Trump, according to a filing Monday, March 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Roughly one in five Fox News viewers trust the network less after the defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems revealed text messages and emails from top figures at the network expressing doubt about former President Trump’s false claims of voter fraud during the 2020 election, according to a new poll. 

A survey conducted by Maru Group for Variety Intelligence Platform found that 21 percent of Fox News viewers over 18 trust Fox News less after the revelations, which including text messages from prominent Fox News hosts and executives as well as testimony from Fox Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch.

Still, 45 percent say they continue to trust the network. Eleven percent say they didn’t trust it before and continue not to, while 23 percent said they have no opinion. 

Dominion Voting Systems has brought a $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox, arguing that the network defamed the company by boosting Trump’s claims that its voting technology was used for election fraud in now-President Biden’s favor. Court filings have shown discrepancies between what top Fox figures said privately of the claims and what was said on-air.

In one exchange, Fox producer Alex Pfeiffer texted primetime host Tucker Carlson, saying “I don’t think there is evidence of voter fraud that swung the election,” to which Carlson allegedly responded, “The software s–t is absurd,” per the Dominion lawsuit.

On his show the next day, however, Carlson promoted allegations of fraud, but said “we don’t know anything about the software.”

In another exchange, host Sean Hannity called Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani an “insane person,” per the lawsuit, but then on his primetime show he highlighted Giuliani’s legal efforts as evidence of potential fraud.

“And let’s not forget the software error — we’re going to be focused on this a lot — wrongfully awarded Joe Biden thousands of ballots that were cast for President Trump, until the problem was amazingly fixed,” Hannity said on his show.

Variety Intelligence Platform reports a spokesperson for Fox News said viewership levels and advertising have not been affected by the lawsuit.

The network’s audience has appeared strong even as it weathers the Dominion suit. Fox News reported earlier this week, per Nielsen Media Research, that it topped basic cable for the week of March 6 and averaged 2.2 million viewers in the 8 p.m-11 p.m. primetime hours.

Asked whether the lawsuit’s revelations have impacted their belief in the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, 13 percent of Fox News viewers say their minds were changed and that they now do not believe the 2020 election was stolen. Fifty percent said the revelations had no effect and that they still believe the election was stolen.

A network spokesperson responded to the Vanity Intelligence Platform survey, arguing that Dominion has been distorting quotes.

“Dominion has been caught red handed again using more distortions and misinformation in their PR campaign to smear FOX News and trample on free speech and freedom of the press. We already know they will say and do anything to try to win this case, but to twist and even misattribute quotes to the highest levels of our company is truly beyond the pale,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Taken March 10-12, the survey polled 1,524 U.S. adults and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. 

Updated at 1:04 p.m.

Tags Dominion Voting Systems Fox News Joe Biden Lawsuit Rudy Giuliani Rupert Murdoch Tucker Carlson

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