• D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG
rotating globe
  • D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
Semafor Logo
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG


Updated Mar 2, 2023, 6:20pm EST
mediapoliticsbusinessNorth America

The White House is trolling Fox with the Dominion lawsuit

From an email from White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates
TweetEmailWhatsapp

Sign up for Semafor Media: Media’s essential read. Read it now.

Title icon

The News

The Biden White House has been trolling Fox News over revelations from the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit that the network knowingly aired false claims about the 2020 presidential election.

On Wednesday, Fox News published a story on its website reporting that President Joe Biden laughed during a public event while discussing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s claims that he is to blame for the 2020 deaths of several Americans from fentanyl.

White House spokesman Andrew Bates then emailed Fox News a statement for the article suggesting readers and viewers “carefully consider whether they trust your article.”

AD

In the statement, Andrew Bates cited reporting on how Lachlan Murdoch encouraged Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott to paper over negative coverage of former President Donald Trump.

“For example, from The New York Times: ‘To Lachlan Murdoch, there seemed to be no detail too small to complain about if he believed it was hurting the bond that Fox News had forged with its audience over the years. He also complained to Ms. Scott at one point about what he saw as the negative tone toward Mr. Trump in the chyron — the block of text that appears at the bottom of the screen. It was too wordy, he said, and too negative about the president,” Bates wrote.

Bates’s comment had not, as of Thursday afternoon, been added to the piece.

AD
Title icon

Max’s view

Democrats have long debated whether to engage or ignore Fox News, and relations are currently at a particular low. Earlier this month, Biden skipped the annual Super Bowl interview, which, according to tradition, should have been conducted by Fox. The Dominion lawsuit includes the allegation that Rupert Murdoch shared Biden’s ads with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

The revelations from the Dominion lawsuit that Fox at times sought to please its audience with claims executives knew to be false may be potent weapons against the network. Rupert Murdoch’s testimony, in which he acknowledged that several hosts promoted false conspiracy theories about the 2020 election has already prompted top congressional Democrats to call for Fox News executives to discipline hosts like Tucker Carlson for spreading 2020 election falsehoods.

Title icon

Room for Disagreement

The White House wasn’t actually answering Fox’s question, and news organizations aren’t required to publish whatever statement a subject decides to send.

AD
Title icon

The View From Fox News

“It’s unfortunate the White House would rather engage in junior varsity campaign style stunts that are, quite frankly, beneath the dignity and the office of the president, instead of confronting the fentanyl crisis sweeping the country,” a Fox News spokesperson said in an email.

Title icon

Notable

  • Fox has been walking a tightrope with Trump in recent months as the lawsuit continues to progress. People close to the president told Semafor he’s effectively been “soft-banned” from the network’s airwaves.
  • Fox News media reporter Howard Kurtz said the network has instructed him not to cover the lawsuit while it is ongoing.
  • The lawsuit is testing the limits of the legal protections for the media, and could have unanticipated consequences.
Semafor Logo
AD