John Oliver took Fox News Channel to the carpet on Sunday night for the 10th season premiere of Last week tonight.
Atop his HBO talk show, which has been on hiatus since November, Oliver discussed court filings that became public last week in a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News linked to the 2020 election fraud allegations.
Dominion Voting Systems, which sells electronic voting hardware and software, is suing Fox News and parent company Fox Corporation, claiming that some Fox News employees deliberately amplified false allegations that Dominion tampered with votes in the 2020 election. and that Fox provided a platform for guests to make false and defamatory statements.
Court documents claim Fox News hosts were seriously concerned about allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election made by guests who were allies of former President Donald Trump.
“Sidney Powell is lying,” about having evidence of voter fraud, Tucker Carlson told a producer about the lawyer on Nov. 16, 2020, according to an excerpt from an exhibit that remains sealed. Carlson also called Powell in a text an “unguided missile” and “dangerous as hell”. Laura Ingraham, meanwhile, told Carlson that Powell was “a complete weirdo. No one will work with her. Same with Rudy,” referring to former New York Mayor and Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani. And Sean Hannity said in a deposition “this whole story that Sidney was pushing, I didn’t believe for a second,” according to the Dominion filing.
Oliver started his Last week tonight segment joking that “the very name of Fox News is a lie in that it does not provide news or, in fact, foxes”.
Oliver showed a CNN report on hosts, including Ingraham, noting that “troubling irregularities have been uncovered and need to be fully investigated.”
Says Oliver: “Wow, if I was a Fox viewer, I’d feel pretty betrayed by this. It’s like finding out that Big Bird regularly texts Elmo, “Fuck them kids,” and Elmo agrees.
Back to Fox News hosts, Oliver noted that the court filing shows “how Fox News hosts didn’t believe the shit they were selling, which is totally fine if you work for QVC and you have to complete an hour why a bejeweled Squatty Potty will save your life, but it’s a bit more ominous when you’re pretending to be the news.
Oliver also pointed to allegations in the court filing where Fox News hosts are accused of fears losing viewers to right-wing channels like Newsmax, with internal communication between Hannity and a producer noting their “best minutes” being on “voting irregularities”. .”
Oliver then said he understood the need to keep viewers, noting that he and his Last week tonight The team also faces pressure to keep people listening. The difference ? “We do it the old-fashioned way, by having the integrity, self-respect and blind fortune to air right after high-profile dramas that people actually want to watch. It’s not hard,” he joked, as HBO’s title cards Game of Thrones, Succession And The last of us were displayed on the screen – all show that Last week tonight is aired or was aired after.
“Several Fox hosts seem to view telling the truth as a potentially existential threat,” Oliver said. He then showed an excerpt from a CNN report saying that Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich had verified a Trump tweet about vote destruction, after which Carlson texted his colleagues: “If he please get her fired. Seriously… What the F*** is this?… It measurably hurts the business. The stock price is down. »
Says Oliver: “As blatant as it is, it definitely tracks, as the list of dismissable offenses at Fox News appears to be ‘depressing stock price’ or ‘being a sex freak for decades (but only if outsiders to the company inquire).
Fox News attorneys argued in a counterclaim that the lawsuit is an attack on the First Amendment. They said Dominion advanced ‘new defamation theories’ and sought a ‘stunning’ damages figure aimed at grabbing headlines, chilling protected speech and enriching Dominion private equity owner Staple. Street Capital Partners.
Fox’s attorneys also said in their own summary judgment brief that Carlson repeatedly questioned Powell’s claims on his shows. They also wrote that when voting tech companies denied allegations by Trump and his surrogates, Fox News aired those denials, while some Fox News hosts offered protected opinion comments about Trump’s allegations. .
The Associated Press contributed to this report.