Fox Hosts Knew Election Claims Were B.S.

They went all-in on the Big Lie and we now have the receipts that they knew what they were doing.

NPR’s David Folkenflik reports what I’m pretty sure we all presumed to be true: “Off the air, Fox News stars blasted the election fraud claims they peddled.”

In the days and weeks after the 2020 elections, the Fox News Channel repeatedly broadcast false claims that then-President Donald Trump had been cheated of victory.

Off the air, the network’s stars, producers and executives expressed contempt for those same conspiracies, calling them “mind-blowingly nuts,” “totally off the rails” and “completely bs” – often in far earthier terms.

The network’s top primetime stars – Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity – texted contemptuously of the claims in group chats, but also denounced colleagues pointing that out publicly or on television.

Ingraham called Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell “a bit nuts.” Carlson, who famously demanded evidence from Powell on the air, privately used a vulgar epithet for women to describe her. A top network programming executive wrote privately that he did not believe the shows of Carlson, Hannity and Jeanine Pirro were credible sources of news.

Whatever else one might think of Fox’s lineup of talking heads, they’re reasonably bright folks who are incredibly plugged in to American politics. So, of course they understood that the claims were complete bullshit. First off, the pre-election polls made it pretty clear Biden was going to win. Second, most of the states accused of “stealing” the election were Republican strongholds where Republican secretaries of state were announcing results certified by local Republican officials. It was just an absurd idea.

Even so, top executives strategized about how to make it up to their viewers – among Trump’s strongest supporters – after Fox News’ election-night team correctly called the pivotal state of Arizona for Democratic nominee Joe Biden before other networks. A sense of desperation pervades the private notes from Fox’s top stars, reflecting an obsession with collapsing ratings.

“It’s remarkable how weak ratings make… good journalists do bad things,” Bill Sammon, at the time the network’s Washington Managing Editor, privately wrote on Dec. 2, 2020. Network executives above him stewed over the hit to Fox News’ brand among its viewers. Yet there was little apparent concern, other than some inquiries from Fox Corp founder Rupert Murdoch, over the journalistic values of fairness and accuracy.

So, at least until the post-2020 election firings, Fox News indeed employed a lot of good journalists, including Sammon, in its news division. But, whatever else they might be, Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham and other Fox talking heads are not now nor were they ever “journalists,” let alone good ones. They’re entertainers and propagandists, at best, and something more sinister at worst.

The audience started to erode severely that fall, starting on Election Night itself. Fox executives and stars equally obsessed over the threat posed by the smaller right-wing network Newsmax. Hannity texted Carlson and Ingraham that Fox’s Arizona call “destroyed a brand that took 25 years to build and the damage is incalculable.” Carlson shot back that it was “vandalism.” Others hosts, including Dana Perino, were equally shocked.

Fox News host Neil Cavuto was attacked by colleagues for pulling his show away from a presentation by then White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany in which she made unfounded claims of fraud once more. (McEnany is now a host on Fox News.)

Again, that’s not shocking. Fox News slowly shifted from a “Fair and Balanced” alternative to the Big 3 plus CNN by poaching conservative-leaning professional journalists like Brit Hume to offer real news with a more conservative perspective to one that needed to feed the beast once the broader information environment because more competitive and openly biased. The talking heads programs were always less journalistic but even the likes of Hannity was initially balanced by putting an Alan Colmes or a Mara Liason on as a moderate-liberal counterweight. By the Trump era, they were having to compete with all-out crazy phenomena like Newsmax and QAnon and Murdoch and company decided that the only thing that mattered was money.

While we’ve known the broad outlines of all of this for quite some time, we’ve gotten details from a long-running lawsuit:

Those revelations and far more surfaced in legal filings made public late Thursday afternoon as part of Dominion Voting System’s blockbuster $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox and its parent company. Dominion sued after Fox hosts and guests repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that the company had switched Trump votes to Biden.

The material presented in the remarkable 178-page brief reflects there were no illusions that there was heft to the allegations of election fraud even among those Fox figures who gave the most intense embrace to Trump allies peddling those lies.

Instead, Dominion’s attorneys paint a portrait of inner turmoil, anger and angst at the news network.

“Dominion has mischaracterized the record, cherry-picked quotes stripped of key context, and spilled considerable ink on facts that are irrelevant under black-letter principles of defamation law,” a Fox News spokesperson said.

After Fox’s correct projection of Arizona for Joe Biden, network leaders schemed to woo back Trump supporters. Fox News chief executive Suzanne Scott texted Lachlan Murdoch, the Fox Corp co-chairman, that “the AZ [call] was damaging but we will highlight our stars and plant flags letting the viewers know we hear them and respect them.”

A team led by then-Fox Corp senior vice president Raj Shah, formerly a White House aide to Trump, warned other top corporate leaders of a “Brand Threat” after Cavuto’s refusal to air McEnany’s White House press briefing on baseless claims of voter fraud.

The claims against the election tech company recurred on Fox News despite Dominion sending thousands of communications dissecting and disproving the false claims – even taking to the opinion pages of Fox News’ corporate cousin, the Wall Street Journal, to do so. (Both Fox News and the Wall Street Journal are part of the Murdoch family’s media empire.) Dominion says it sent more than 3,600 communications to Fox staffers taking issue with the false claims of election fraud.

Fox News host Maria Bartiromo was first to interview Powell, the Trump attorney, on Nov. 8, 2020, a few days after the election. Powell would become one of Trump’s most fervent legal advocates. In her deposition, Bartiromo conceded Powell’s claims lacked any substantiation.

Fox’s counter is weak tea, indeed.

For its part, Fox’s attorneys call Dominion’s suit an attempt to punish the news network for reporting on “one of the biggest stories of the day.” The network says it could dissuade journalists in the future from reporting allegations “inconvenient to Dominion—and other companies.”

In a separate filing, also released to the public on Thursday, the cable network’s attorneys say Dominion’s ten-figure request for damages is designed to “generate headlines” and to enrich the company’s controlling owner, the private equity fund Staple Street Capital Partners.

“According to Dominion, [Fox News] had a duty not to truthfully report the President’s allegations but to suppress them or denounce them as false,” the Fox attorneys argue. Fox further asserts that Dominion did not suffer harm as a result of the broadcasts, and that the company’s value as a business is nowhere near the $1.6 billion in damages it is seeking.

“There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners,” Fox News said in a statement today. “The core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by New York Times v. Sullivan.”

Nobody of any consequence is arguing that Fox should have “suppressed” Trump’s claims. Every news outlet I’m aware of covered them ad nauseam. What most of the others did, though, is counterbalance the claims with evidence that they were without any factual basis whatsoever.

The opinion shows, presumably, have even less duty than the news programming in that regard. The fact that Hannity, Carlson, and company knew what they were saying is bullshit would seem to undermine claims they were simply expressing their views. But, even to the extent that Dominion is a “public figure” under current 1st Amendment jurisprudence (which, interestingly, Trump and some on the current Supreme Court want to undermine) a reckless disregard for the truth that damages a person on company’s reputation is not protected speech.

Under the high legal bar of actual malice, defined in that 1964 U.S. Supreme Court decision involving The New York Times, Dominion has to show Fox acted either with knowledge that what it was broadcasting to the public was false, or that it acted with reckless disregard of the truth.

“Here,” Dominion’s legal team wrote in its filings, “every person acted with actual malice.” It offered one example after another that key Fox figures knew what the network was putting on the air was false.

Again, while we understood that to be the case all along, the discovery documents provide direct evidence:

On Nov. 5, 2020, just days after the election, Bret Baier, the network’s chief political anchor texted a friend: “[T]here is NO evidence of fraud. None. Allegations – stories. Twitter. Bulls—.”

The following week, a producer for Ingraham sent a note conveying similar disgust. “This dominion s— is going to give me a f—ing aneurysm.”

In answering questions from Dominion’s attorneys under oath, former Fox Business host Lou Dobbs said he had never “seen any verifiable, tangible support” that Dominion was owned by a second voting-tech company Smartmatic. Yet that claim was repeatedly said on air by Fox hosts and guests. Dobbs also said he was aware of no evidence that Dominion rigged the election, according to Dominion’s legal filings.

On the air, Dobbs was among the most muscular proponents of Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud. He was forced out of Fox the day after Smartmatic filed its own $2.7 billion defamation case against the network.

In fairness, Baier refused to go along with the charade and, indeed, actively opposed it on Fox’s air. Chris Wallace, too, has been a stalwart. But the opinion hosts are what makes the network profitable and they all went whole hog on the lies.

Meanwhile, fixated on the erosion of viewers to smaller right-wing rivals, Fox News executives purged senior journalists who were fixated on reflecting the facts. In a note to the network’s top publicity executive, Fox News CEO Scott denounced Sammon, the former Washington managing editor. Scott wrote Sammon did not understand “the impact to the brand and the arrogance” in projecting Arizona for Biden, saying it was Sammon’s job “to protect the brand.”

His departure two months later was termed a retirement by Fox News; through an intermediary, Sammon has declined to comment on that, citing the terms of his departure.

Despite their contempt for Powell and Giuliani, the two Trump campaign attorneys appeared repeatedly on Fox shows. On several occasions, so did Trump.

On Jan. 5, 2021, the day before Congress was to ceremonially affirm Biden’s win, and an angry pro-Trump mob sacked the U.S. Capitol to prevent it, Rupert Murdoch forwarded a suggestion to Fox News CEO Scott. He recommended that the Fox prime time stars – Carlson, Hannity and Ingraham – acknowledge Trump’s loss. “Would go a long way to stop the Trump myth that the election was stolen,” he wrote. They did not do so. “We need to be careful about using the shows and pissing off the viewers,” Scott said to a colleague.

As the election tech firm’s attorneys wrote in their filing, Fox never retracted the claims made about Dominion on its airwaves.

It’s going to cost them big, I predict, and deservedly so.

FILED UNDER: Media, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. HelloWorld! says:

    If this is a fair and just world, what will the consequences be for News Corp and billionaire Australian Rupert Murdoch? It’s a very big deal to spread these kinds of lies.

  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    Of course they knew it was BS. Murdoch and his minions have long been leaders of a 5th column that has sought to undermine liberal governance and the rule of law.

    Defamation cases are incredibly difficult to win, but Fox’s behavior and the evidence garnered from the documentation just may burn them on a pyre of their own words.

  3. Kathy says:

    If a news network is harmed by accurately reporting the news, then it’s not a news network.

  4. drj says:


    In a fair and just world, people would go to jail for this.

    However, I don’t think there are statutes that actually criminalize this kind of behavior (and it would be very hard to create such laws while keeping essential 1A protections intact).

    Still, from a moral perspective these people certainly deserve to be locked up for a long, long time.

    It’s no small thing to try and disenfranchise a country’s democratic majority.

  5. Kylopod says:

    @drj: It’s not criminal, but it’s definitely relevant in the Dominion lawsuit.

    Not that that’s especially comforting. The best-case scenario is that Fox ends up in a settlement where they pay a chunk of money to Dominion. But they’ll survive just fine, and I’m not even sure it’s much of a disincentive for them to continue this type of behavior in the future, beyond maybe being more cautious in their language. Tucker Carlson has wriggled out of trouble that way repeatedly.

  6. mattbernius says:

    The specific excerpts from the communications show the cynical approach Fox Hosts take to their audiences and the degree to which the tail wags the dog:

    Maria Bartiromo: “Ratings are very important” to Bartiromo, and “They impact various aspects of [her] career at Fox. Ex.98, Bartiromo 320:4-9. She agreed that “It’s easier to get good ratings when you are giving your audience something they want to hear.” id. 323:6-9. Bartiromo and her producer Abby Grossberg knew that “Dominion rigged the election” was exactly what the audience wanted to hear: Grossberg texted Bartiromo that, “To be honest, our audience doesn’t want to hear about a peaceful transition. They still have hope…” to which Bartiromo answered, “Yes, agree.” Ex.514″

    A key public refrain in right-wing media is that their audiences are the smartest and most independent-thinking of audiences. And that they’re not snowflakes like those on the left who want to be spoonfed information. Behind the scenes, it appears that those same hosts don’t actually hold their audiences in quite the same regard.

    One other thought, for years our dwindling amount of right-wing commenters accused James and OTB of moving toward the political center because they were chasing audience clout. I have to wonder what those folks were really upset about was the fact that OTB has been trying to represent the facts as they see them rather than intentionally serving up the (very profitable) fact-free, feel-constantly-angry-and-victimized red meat that right-wingers have been fed for years by their core partisan media sources.

  7. mattbernius says:


    The best-case scenario is that Fox ends up in a settlement where they pay a chunk of money to Dominion. But they’ll survive just fine, and I’m not even sure it’s much of a disincentive for them to continue this type of behavior in the future, beyond maybe being more cautious in their language.

    I’m not sure about this–at least in the short term. Dominion is seeking $1.6 billion in damages against Fox. Even if this moves to settlement, I expect that Dominion will get close to, if not above, $1 billion. Discovery has been really damning for FoxNews and frankly, Dominion is going to be dealing with the ongoing damage from this for years (because the MAGA base will continue to believe that lie and that includes a lot of legislators). So I don’t think Dominion is going to let this go without extracting a number of pounds of flesh.

  8. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    Least surprising news item that I have read in a long time.
    Fox is currently worth about $18.7B.
    Certainly a $1.6B judgment will hurt but it won’t destroy them.

  9. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    Everyone is always comparing Fox and CNN and MSNBC as though they are the same.
    Please show me an example of CNN or MSNBC anchors blatantly lying to people like this?
    I’ll wait…………………….

  10. gVOR08 says:

    @drj: IANAL and I don’t follow this closely and have not seen this stated, but I assume the suit depends on claimed damages which would be that Dominion’s sales presumably went off a cliff.

    The basic problem here is that so much of what Trump et al did was a threat to democracy, but not clearly illegal. There proved to be large gaps in our statutes. It’s like military contracting. The problem isn’t that they do illegal stuff, it’s that what they do is legal. Perhaps Prosecutor Smith sees it differently and can cite violate statutes.

    I fail to see Pence as a hero for just doing his job. For one day. I think he did the right thing for fear of consequences if he became point man for the effort. But had he refused to accept certified election results I’m not at all clear on what he might have been charged with.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Fox News in a court filing:

    “No rational person would ever believe anything Tucker Carlson says.”

    United States District Judge MARY KAY VYSKOCIL:

    “I agree.”

    Court decision

  12. This is rich:

    “Dominion has mischaracterized the record, cherry-picked quotes stripped of key context, and spilled considerable ink on facts that are irrelevant under black-letter principles of defamation law,” a Fox News spokesperson said.

  13. gVOR08 says:


    Behind the scenes, it appears that those same hosts don’t actually hold their audiences in quite the same regard.

    That makes me crazy. FOX, and GOP pols, are contemptuous of their followers, but try telling that to their followers. The MAGA are sure Trump is one of them and loves them deeply when in reality Trump just sees them as easy marks.

    In current context, yes, GOPs want to minimize and privatize Social Security and everybody knowledgeable knows it. But GOPs also very badly don’t want their constituents to know that. So they lie. And they’ve succeeded so far.

  14. Joe says:

    @mattbernius: We here at OTB tend to blame Fox for creating their audience. Their behavior catalogued here makes more of a case for them having found their audience, to paraphrase “an audience that took 25 years to find and curate.”
    We spoke as if Fox was in charge but, as the old Dylan lyric goes, “you’ve got to serve somebody.”

  15. gVOR08 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Hey, that’s like listening to Henry Kissinger talk about lying in government. You have to respect his expertise.

    If anybody knows all about cherry-picked quotes, stripping context, and irrelevancies it’s FOX news.

  16. Scott F. says:

    I’m reminded of the recurring posts at OTB on the weakness of the establishment political parties and the parallels are eerie. If a political party is harmed by standing up to its primary voters by accurately reflecting political reality, then it’s not a political party.

  17. @mattbernius: In my fantasies (and I use that word here very deliberately) FNC viewers that I know will read about these findings and realize that they shouldn’t trust these people.

    But, alas…

  18. Mister Bluster says:

    Fox News
    We distort
    You run and hide

  19. Matt Bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I feel the same, but the reality is people, in general, don’t mind being to be lied to as long as it matches their worldview. And perversely, even when they discover they have been lied to, most will find ways to rationalize their priors in spite of the lies.

    The reality also is that all of us tend to prefer having our worldview reinforced rather than challenged. I include myself in that as well.

  20. MarkedMan says:

    This just points to the absurdity of “listening to all sides”. There can be no benefit from listening to people who are literally paid to lie to you, whether it is the absurd clown show at Fox or the more pseudo-intellectual pens-for-hire at Reason magazine or the Heritage Foundation. They are con artists, nothing more.

  21. MarkedMan says:


    an audience that took 25 years to find and curate

    This type of audience always exists and there have always been sources willing to give them what they want. The relationship of the news source is parasitic, but not in the “drain the life blood until the victims are mere husks” way but more in the way a farmer breeds cattle. It is in the interest of Fox to grow their “herd” and they have been incredibly effective at that. One way to grow the herd is to promote leaders who support the interests of Fox and help put them into positions of power. This attracts leaders to their cause who oftentimes would be too smart to fall for the BS, and leaders have followers. To Fox, it doesn’t matter at all what those leaders are promoting as long as they are also bringing viewers to their programming.

  22. Kylopod says:

    @Joe: Around 2015, my brother sent me a graphic featuring an older picture of Trump next to the following quote:

    “If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.”
    — Donald Trump, People Magazine, 1998

    This quote was later exposed as fake by Snopes and other fact-checking sources, but I suspected that immediately upon reading it, and one of the red flags for me was the sentence, “They believe anything on Fox News.” I don’t think anyone in 1998 would have uttered that line. It’s true that Fox News began in 1996. But it took several years before becoming the right-wing brainwashing factory we all know and love. It always had a definite conservative slant, but it was more subtle in its early years. I’m not even sure its audience compared with, say, CNN, was as overwhelmingly Republican as it is today.

  23. Lounsbury says:

    @Kathy: That’s an utterly nonsensical statement. There are any number of reasons why reporting the news accurately could be harmful to a news organisation.

    @Matt Bernius: Humans are humans.

    @daryl and his brother darryl: in combination with the Smartmatic lawsuits, the potential for real financial pain seems not trivial, although not unaffordable.

    In such instance the wild card of influence is the combination of shareholders and la famille Murdoch members who are not Lachlan, of which most imporantly his two direct silbings.

  24. steve says:

    If Fox is found guilty it will get appealed up to SCOTUS. Given the make up of the current court they will reverse the verdict.


  25. Raoul says:

    You bring up Britt Hume. If I recall correctly, he and other conservative journalists left the other networks because they felt they slanted the news too much. Now the find themselves working outright for a propaganda network. If they don’t resign it will tell you more about them than about Fox. Basically, they were always full of themselves and their complaints were baseless. The other networks should treat Fox with the contempt they deserve.

  26. MarkedMan says:


    That’s an utterly nonsensical statement. There are any number of reasons why reporting the news accurately could be harmful to a news organisation.

    Ah, that’s the Lounsbury of old! Lashing out and insulting someone for no apparent reason!

  27. Argon says:

    Fox News slowly shifted from a “Fair and Balanced” alternative….

    Lol. ‘Slowly’, for a network managed by Roger ‘let’s not let them impeach another Republican president again’ Ailes and a Murdoch property. The managers just got less hesitant of preventing the mask from slipping. The only thing slow might have been period needed to normalize the current behavior.

  28. Lounsbury says:

    @MarkedMan: If insulting is pointing out that a statement is nonsensical then the poor thin-skinned provincials are rather easily insulted. It was an utterly nonsensical, fatouus and illogical statement, and to be insulting idiotic partisan posturing

    If a news network is harmed by accurately reporting the news, then it’s not a news network.

    There are any number of ways one can take shots at Fox without making idiotically illogical assertions.

    of course the boring My Team knee jerking and petty boring partisans tediousness can lead to blind reaction.

  29. Kathy says:


    Can you name one?

    Besides displeasing the dictator with power of life and death over the newsroom.

  30. Hal_10000 says:

    In fairness to Fox, their reporting was decent enough that Trump turned on them and told people to start watching OANN and Newsmax.

  31. Lounsbury says:

    @Kathy: Yes my dear dim peevish partisan twit, just illustratively The Financial Times was subject German penalties, investigations and restrictions in response to its entirely accurate reporting on the Wirecard fraud that was eventually proven.

    This of course not even bothering to refer to cases of problems faced by legitimate Hungarian, Turkish, Polish medias (none of which countries one can qualify as “dictatorships”) facing government harrassment and harms. Leaving aside private actor actions one could easily identify with a modicum of effort.

    Your statement was and is prima facia empty headed and ignorant partisan political sniping, full stop.

  32. Lounsbury says:

    Now of rather more interesting subject: the potential effect of cumulative judgements against Fox in respect to both of Dominion and Smartmatic, as it would appear that the risk of judgments at trial now is not trivial. As each of the suits are running at 1-2 billion USD in risk, this would appear even at settlements (as the Famillle Murdoch rather smartly tends to) to be in line to wipe out the pre-tax profit of the Fox News as reported over several years.

    The impact within the shareholding and notably the delicate internal family balance could be quite important as Lachlan’s doubling down on the MAGA out of cynical profit chasing begins to look rather less of the enticing financial move he has in the past presented, and rather more of an over-reaching blunder.

    If both Smartmatic and Dominion drive home – the statements they would not settle one should think are partly bargaining although besides the financial payout as I recall they are seeking a good, unambigous Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa …

    One does rather hope.

  33. Matt Bernius says:


    @Matt Bernius: Humans are humans.

    Agreed. And it’s always worth acknowledging, if for no other reasons because we are humans too and definitely susceptible to these same impulses (especially if we fall into the trap of believing we’re special and above all that).

  34. Neil Hudelson says:


    You know what I appreciate about you? Despite frequently being embarrassingly wrong, and having a writing style so tedious and masturbatory that Orwell himself would throw up his hands in defeat, you also find time to be an asshole.

  35. Kathy says:


    Did you crawl from under the wrong side of the rock this morning?

    So, how bad was the loss of readership of the FT?

  36. DK says:


    One other thought, for years our dwindling amount of right-wing commenters accused James and OTB of moving toward the political center because they were chasing audience clout.

    Folks have moved from right to center and even to left for the same reason all of us who used to vote Republican (consistently or just sometimes) did: the right has lost its frikkin mind.

    When you see that those you once made common cause with liars, bigots, fascists, and loons, due diligence requires you question every political and ideological assumption that led you to lie down with dogs in the first place.

  37. Matt Bernius says:

    With regards to the assertion:

    There are any number of reasons why reporting the news accurately could be harmful to a news organisation.

    Its important to take location into consideration. I realize that @Lounsbury tends to be more familiar with things happening on the continent than most of us. And what he listed are all very real cases. It’s also worth noting that all of those different countries have key differences in both their governmental and legal structures that allowed for that different mode of attacks. They are playing with a different set of rules than US News Institutions (hence its a bit of a fruit to vegetables comparison).

    Thanks to the First Amendment and a lot of Supreme Court precedents (some of which may be in danger) news institutions in the US have a lot more protection than elsewhere in the developed world. All that said, there are still punishments that can be exacted on News organizations for reporting the news accurately. The two biggest ways are (1) through loss of access (which is major, especially if you are reporting on politics) and (2) that while this country has a lot of protections on the first amendment, those aren’t there from a financial perspective and smaller media organizations have been bought in the past and shut down (or had their editorial teams changed). There is also the risk of physical violence–I wish I didn’t have to write that, but we’ve seen a lot of literal attacks on journalists in recent years.

    All that said, none of these really apply to the Fox case. The issue with accurately reporting this particular news for them was it simply was content their audience didn’t want to believe or hear.

  38. Stormy Dragon says:


    Folks have moved from right to center and even to left for the same reason all of us who used to vote Republican (consistently or just sometimes) did: the right has lost its frikkin mind.

    Political ideology is often like a sweater too. Once you pull at that one particular thread that’s annoying you, the entire thing can end up unravelling with shocking speed.

    I think there’s a lot of former Republicans who became aware that the party was arguing in bad faith in one particular area and then became more skeptical whether other claims were similarly being made in bad faith.

    I think that’s the biggest change in me over the last six years: I’ve become far less interested in engaging in debates where I’m not sure the other side actually believes their own argument or just finds it momentarily useful to pretend that’s what they believe for tactical reasons.

  39. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Mentioning SC precedents that maybe in jeopardy, the big losers among “news” organizations if Sullivan goes down, won’t be the majors, but it will be the small ideological outlets that fabricate much of what they present. Brietbart, the Gateway Pundit, Pajama Media, you better have a good libel attorney on speed dial. The majors have enough editorial control and in-house lawyers to keep them out of trouble.

  40. MarkedMan says:

    @Lounsbury: Actually, it wasn’t a nonsensical statement. Would it be insulting to point out that your tendentiously exacting interpretation of a reasonable comment is a nonsensical exercise in puffery and posturing more suited to an 11 year old?

  41. MarkedMan says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Couldn’t have said it better myself. Lounsbury sets up mighty fortresses of intellect in his own little mind and then lambastes those that cannot see his wisdom. Sometimes what he says makes sense. And sometimes it is the entitled lashing out of a spoiled 11 year old.

  42. Kurtz says:


    Yes my dear dim peevish partisan twit

    Wait, what? I mean, she asked a question. You responded as if she was the one that said you were insulting in your post calling her assertion “non-sensical.” FWIW, I didn’t think your initial response was insulting.

    I’ve rarely, if ever, noticed Kathy posting anything worthy of any of the adjectives in the quote.

    I suggest you apologize; this was entirely uncalled for.

  43. JohnSF says:

    How far will any of this penetrate in the the Republican base, I wonder?
    I know that if it turned out people I tusted as reporters and analysts were deliberately misleading me, I would be very extremely pissed off.
    Are they just dismissing this as “fake news”?
    Too stupid, or wilfully blind, to actually process the information?
    Or determined to hang on in the political trenches they’ve dug for themselves, come what may?

    But then, I suppose it’s like Brexiters: the hard core tending to double-down even as evidence mounts of the damage.
    But at least, we haven’t had emails from the Telegraph etc. admitting they KNEW it was all lies.
    Most of the Brexit commentariat seem to have the redeeming stupidity of actually believing their own BS

  44. MarkedMan says:

    @Matt Bernius: Sure. I got what Lounsbury was saying immediately when he said it and, while it is hyper-literally true, it more importantly shows a complete lack of awareness of the intent and scope of Kathy’s quip. When he went off on her in a completely obnoxious and disproportionate way it only served to demonstrate that he doesn’t have the social awareness to understand the context and intent of her comment nor to realize that his out-of-all-proportion attacks only further highlight his lack of socialization.

    I am reminded of the tendentious boors who lectured everyone as midnight approached on December 31, 1999 that the real dawn of the new millennium wouldn’t occur until 2001, thereby demonstrating nothing but that they didn’t understand the social purpose behind New Year’s Eve celebrations. But I never came across even one of those hapless souls who felt the best way to satisfy their hyper-literal OCD was to lash out and start insulting someone.

  45. Kathy says:


    Joe dies and finds himself outside Heaven. St. Peter tells him they can’t admit him, because Heaven is full. But he can come in if he gets someone else to leave.

    So, Joe asks Pete for five minutes inside, claiming he can get almost everyone to go. Pete agrees.

    Five minutes later, there’s a massive stampede of soul fleeing Heaven faster than Pete’s ever seen anything move before. the place is almost empty.

    “Joe, how did you do that?”
    “I started a rumor that gold has been found in Hell.”

    A few minutes later, Pete sees Joe leaving towards Hell as well.

    In parting, Joe says “Hey, it might be true after all!”

  46. Kurtz says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    (hence its a bit of a fruit to vegetables comparison)

    Or they could be tomatoes.

  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    This will have very little effect on Republicans, and I’ll tell you why: many of them, maybe even most, know in their secret hearts that it’s all lies. People who are lied to on the regular have chosen to believe lies. It’s like religious faith – they know it’s bullshit. They don’t care. Lies that confirm your prejudices, or truth that challenges you? Guess what many, many, many people prefer.

  48. JohnSF says:

    Or pomegranates. But I may be just taking the pith.

  49. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Ah, yer a cynical ole sod, Reynolds, so y’ are. 😉

    You must remind me to run through my apologia for Christianity sometime; the Anglican cleric I last recounted it to said it was very good theology, up to the point I told him I didn’t believe a word of it.
    But then, he could run through a hundred arguments for atheism at the the drop of a hat.
    Anglican seminary graduates, or Catholic Jesuits, are a very different breed of cat to Southern Baptist fundies, or Pentecostals who are high on their own supply.

  50. Kathy says:


    I appreciate the support. Thank you.

    But, really, I’ve seen far worse. If I got angry or upset every time someone lost it on the internet, I’d have time for nothing else.

  51. Kathy says:


    I am reminded of the tendentious boors who lectured everyone as midnight approached on December 31, 1999 that the real dawn of the new millennium wouldn’t occur until 2001

    I stopped caring about the new year past 1) the yearly bonus handed by december 20th, and 2) at my old job, two weeks vacation around that time. Maybe now I care Jan 1st. fall on a Monday or Friday, and get upset when it’s on a weekend.

    Of course the way we count years is arbitrary and subject to change. And it’s not even accurate. If we start on the birth of Jesús el Nazareno, then we ought to be in the year 2027 by now. So who cares whether an arbitrary third (3rd) millennium starts on MM or MMI?

  52. JohnMc says:

    Our friend Mr Lounsbury is so perfect in his huffy boorish condescending persona, he puts me in mind of another of our commenters from the past. Anyone remember Terrell? Someone else too perfect in their role.

  53. EddieInCA says:

    I need help here…

    I can’t find one right wing, or even center right site talking about this. Has anyone found a right of center site or organization reporting on the Dominion legal filing?

  54. EddieInCA says:


    Found one. Ann Althouse. Only one so far.

    National Review? Nothing.
    Redstate? Nothing.
    The Federalist? Nothing.
    Washington Examiner? Nothing.
    Daily Wire? Nothing.
    Daily Caller? Nothing.

  55. CSK says:

    Anything that makes Trump look bad they ignore, unless they can dismiss it as fake news.

  56. Michael Reynolds says:

    I don’t approve of violence, but if someone took a baseball bat to Tucker Carlson that assailant would want me on his jury.

  57. gVOR08 says:

    With conservative pundits there’s always the question of whether they’re lying or are really dumb enough to believe it. We have an answer for Hannity, Carlson, et al, but I still think George Will is dumb enough to believe it.