Fox News has apparently decided it doesn’t need to be sued yet again for boosting false election claims.
On Sunday, the network carried live coverage of former President Donald Trump’s headlining speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). To the surprise of no one, the former president repeated a bunch of falsehoods about how he actually won the election, and Fox News had to perform some legal ass-covering in real time.
“I got more votes—75 million—than anybody in the history of the presidency,” Trump, exaggerating his actual vote count, which was 74,216,156, and casually omitting the fact that 81,268,924 people voted for President Joe Biden. Trump also said he “lost,” using air quotes.
Later, after Trump shifted topics to the subject of 2024, Fox News ran an all-caps chyron disclaimer under him saying: "The voting system companies have denied the various allegations made by President Trump and his counsel regarding the 2020 election."
The chyron stayed up for more than a half a minute, although Trump didn’t repeat further claims of fraud during that time, according to Mediaite.
Fox has come under fire from conservatives for not toeing the Trump line as meticulously as emerging right-wing competitors like One America News and Newsmax. Much of the anger intensified when Fox News’ election desk called Arizona on election night for Joe Biden, well before other outlets including the AP.
Fox Nation was a sponsor of CPAC, appearing on lanyards given out during the conference. But some attendees claimed Ivory Hecker, a former reporter for a Fox affiliate in Houston who alleged her bosses were censoring her, was “deplatformed” by Fox when her speech wasn’t shown during the streaming network’s coverage of the event. (A Fox Nation spokesperson told Newsweek the feed was never cut, and that it had already stopped streaming the live coverage.)
Fox News was sued for defamation earlier this year by voting technology company Smartmatic, along with multiple Fox hosts and Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, for several billion dollars. The company alleges that Giuliani and Powell “created a story about Smartmatic” engaging in a conspiracy to steal the election, and that “Fox joined the conspiracy to defame and disparage Smartmatic and its election technology and software.”
Fox has responded by asking a New York court to dismiss the lawsuit. In December, before the lawsuit was filed, the company aired fact-checking segments about Smartmatic during shows hosted by Jeanine Pirro and Lou Dobbs, two of the defendants named in the lawsuit.
In addition to the Smartmatic lawsuit, Dominion Voting Systems, which manufactures voting machines, sued Fox News in March for $1.6 billion, claiming the network “endorsed, repeated, and broadcast a series of verifiably false yet devastating lies about Dominion,” including that the company engaged in fraud and rigged the election, gave kickbacks to election officials, and had ties to former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
Trump, however, has continued to push the theories of fraud, including during his speech Sunday.
“Whenever the media references the election hoax, they say the fraud is ‘unproven, and ‘while there is no evidence…’" Trump said Sunday of the unproven and evidence-less claims of fraud. “No evidence? There's so much evidence,” he added, before claiming that Georgia deleted “100,000 votes.”
Trump was lying: In reality, Georgia removed more than 100,000 people from the state’s voting rolls—none of whom voted in the November election, a spokesperson for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told VICE News last month.
Despite being twice-impeached and continuously casting doubt on the legitimacy of the election results—or perhaps a result of it—Trump is still undeniably the leader of the Republican Party. In an anonymous CPAC straw poll Sunday, Trump received a whopping 70 percent support—more than three times as second-place Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis—as the 2024 GOP nominee, up from 55 percent in February.
“I love my Republicans, but we’re really kicking their ass too,” Trump said Sunday, to a smattering of cheers. “But we love ‘em.”