Fox News executives and personalities knew that claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election were false but decided to broadcast the allegations anyway, a new court filing shows.
The 192-page document, filed by Dominion Voting Systems, is part of a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought against the right-wing US television network.
Dominion alleges some employees at Fox News peddled false claims that the company had changed votes in the 2020 election to hand the presidency to Joe Biden over Donald Trump.
“Sidney Powell is lying,” Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson texted his producer, referring to the former lawyer for Mr Trump who pressed claims that Dominion's voting machines were rigged.
“Sidney Powell is a bit nuts. Sorry but she is,” anchor Laura Ingraham texted to Carlson and fellow primetime anchor Sean Hannity on November 16, 2020.
In a text message exchange between Carlson and Ingraham two days later, he told her: “Sidney Powell is lying, by the way. I caught her. It's insane.”
Ingraham replied: “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy,” referring to Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump's former lawyer who was also part of the campaign to spread election fraud conspiracy theories.
NewsCorp chief executive Rupert Murdoch, who characterised the false fraud claims as “really crazy stuff”, suggested that the network's three primetime stars should tell their viewers that Mr Biden had won the 2020 election, believing such action “would go a long way to stop the Trump myth that the election [was] stolen”.
Raj Shah, senior vice president of Fox News Corp, called the fraud claims “mind-blowingly nuts”.
Dominion alleges that Fox never retracted its claims about its voting machines.
“To this day, Fox has never retracted the false statements its broadcast about Dominion,” the filing says.
“Privately, Fox’s hosts and executives knew that Donald Trump lost the election and that he needed to concede.
“But Fox viewers heard a different story — repeatedly.”
Fox defended its coverage of the election, arguing it had a right to report on the fraud allegations raised by Mr Trump, who was president at the time, and his allies.
In its own filing, Fox said the former president's fraud claims were “undeniably newsworthy” and that the network's viewers knew they were being reported as allegations.
Fox also argued that the lawsuit filed by Dominion was an attack on the First Amendment, The Associated Press reported.
A five-week trial between Dominion Voting Systems and Fox is scheduled to begin on April 17.
Agencies contributed to this report