The fallout from Fox News’ $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems continued on Friday, with the network dissolving its investigative unit.
“The rank and file journalists are getting let go. Meanwhile, upper management are sitting pretty while they are the execs responsible for the Dominion debacle,” one Fox employee tells Rolling Stone, which has confirmed the unit has been axed. “We are the sacrificial lambs.”
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“Yes, [layoffs] have happened,” another staffer confirms. “And continue to happen.”
Dominion filed a defamation suit against Fox in 2021 for spreading lies about the 2020 presidential election results. The misinformation at the heart of the lawsuit was pushed largely through the network’s opinion hosts, which operate independently from its news division and aren’t held to typical journalistic standards.
“The outrage is that Suzanne Scott and Maria Bartiromo keep their jobs,” the employee says, referring to the network CEO and one of its opinion hosts named in the lawsuit, respectively. “Meanwhile the journalists get let go. We are in shock.”
“I think producers, management, et cetera [are being laid-off],” adds a former Fox talent. “They are trying to get money off the books before June 30. They have to save money because of the [Dominion] lawsuit.”
A Fox source with knowledge of the situation rejected any connection between the layoffs and the Dominion settlement. The source said some of the people within the investigative unit had been reassigned.
Fox settled with Dominion last month after a protracted legal battle that revealed the lengths the network went to stoke the idea that the election had been rigged in President Biden’s favor and stolen from Donald Trump. Court filing made clear that everyone from Ruper Murdoch to Tucker Carlson was aware that they couldn’t substantiate this idea, and yet the network continued to push it believing it would help ratings. Scott even wrote in an email after the election that fact-checking fraud claims was “bad for business.”
“I can’t keep defending these reporters who don’t understand our viewers and how to handle stories,” she wrote to network President Jay Wallace after reporter Kristin Fisher fact-checked a lie-filled press conference held by Rudy Giuliani. “We need to manage this […] The audience feels like we crapped on [them] and we have damaged their trust and belief in us.”
The relationship between Fox’s news division and its opinion hosts has long been strained. Mediaite reported in March that after Tucker Carlson edited exclusive Capitol surveillance footage to make the Jan. 6 insurrection look peaceful, the news division refused to promote it. Rolling Stone spoke with several Fox employees who were elated after Carlson was fired last month.
“Pure joy,” said one reporter describing their reaction to the split. “No one is untouchable. It’s a great day for America, and for the real journalists who work hard every day to deliver the news at Fox.”
It turns out that the “real journalists” aren’t untouchable, either, especially now that the network, which barely even pretends to care about factual accuracy, is feeling it financially. The pain might not be letting up anytime soon. Fox is also facing a lawsuit from Smartmatic, another voting systems company that is alleging defamation for pushing lies about the 2020 election. The company has said it wants the network to pay out even more than the three-quarters of a billion dollars it forked over to Dominion.
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