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Dems, Trump lean on Rupert Murdoch, but only one side makes sense

As Donald Trump pushes Rupert Murdoch to embrace lies and conspiracy theories, Democratic leaders are pushing the executive in the opposite direction.


The first round of revelations from Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation case against Fox News was surprisingly brutal: A detailed court filing presented evidence that the media outlet apparently promoted bogus election claims they knew to be false, on purpose, in order to placate its audience and make money.

The second round added new weight to the controversy: In sworn testimony, News Corp. Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch conceded that Donald Trump’s post-election claims were lies, and the executive acknowledged that some prominent Fox News hosts “endorsed” baseless claims the network knew to be wrong. Murdoch’s comments reinforced the impression that Fox News prioritized money over truth. (The network has denied any wrongdoing.)

To put it mildly, the former president was not pleased. The Republican accused Murdoch of “throwing his anchors under the table” — I assume he meant “under the bus” — and expressed outrage that the News Corp. executive didn’t believe ridiculous election conspiracy theories.

Soon after, the former president insisted the Fox anchors who endorsed lies were right all along, and if Murdoch accepts the truth about the 2020 election, he “should get out of the News Business as soon as possible.” This morning, Trump actually called on Murdoch to “apologize to his viewers and readers” for not embracing the Republican’s conspiracy theories.

As it turns out, the News Corp. executive isn’t just facing pressure from a Republican leader. As Politico reported, Democratic leaders also have some recommendations in mind.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries sent a letter Wednesday to Rupert Murdoch and other Fox News executives asking for the network’s hosts to stop spreading misinformation about the 2020 election. ... In addition to Murdoch, the chairman of Fox Corporation, the letter was sent to Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman and CEO of Fox Corporation, Suzanne Scott, CEO of Fox News Media and Jay Wallace, president and executive editor of Fox News Media.

The New York Democrats do not often issue joint letters like this, which made their relatively brief letter all the more notable.

“Though you have acknowledged your regret in allowing this grave propaganda to take place, your network hosts continue to promote, spew, and perpetuate election conspiracy theories to this day,” Jeffries and Schumer wrote. “The leadership of your company was aware of the dangers of broadcasting these outlandish claims. By your own account, Donald Trump’s election lies were ‘damaging’ and ‘really crazy stuff.’ Despite that shocking admission, Fox News hosts have continued to peddle election denialism to the American people.”

The letter concluded, “Fox News executives and all other hosts on your network have a clear choice. You can continue a pattern of lying to your viewers and risking democracy or move beyond this damaging chapter in your company’s history by siding with the truth and reporting the facts. We ask that you make sure Fox News ceases disseminating the Big Lie and other election conspiracy theories on your network.”

The correspondence comes against a backdrop of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy giving Fox News’ Tucker Carlson exclusive access to sensitive Jan. 6 security camera footage — a move that Schumer and Jeffries have condemned.

With Murdoch facing this kind of pressure from leaders of both parties, there will likely be some who believe the News Corp. executive finds himself in a good position. After all, these observers will say, if both parties’ leaders are upset, then Murdoch must be doing something right.

In reality, that does not work in this instance. Yes, leaders from both parties are now pressuring Murdoch, but only one side is making sense. Trump is pushing the executive to embrace lies and conspiracy theories, while Jeffries and Schumer are pushing the executive to tell the truth.