- Dominion’s lawsuit revealed comments Fox News hosts and execs made about Rudy Giuliani in 2020.
- Ingraham called Giuliani “such an idiot” and Hannity said he was “acting like an insane person.”
- Dominion is suing Fox for defamation related to unfounded election fraud claims about the company.
In the wake of the 2020 election, Rudy Giuliani made several appearances on Fox News to push false claims about widespread election fraud on behalf of President Donald Trump — even as the man in charge of the network and some of its most popular hosts privately denounced the president’s lawyer as “insane” and “such an idiot.”
The comments about Giuliani were outlined in newly released court documents from a defamation lawsuit filed in 2021 by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox. The documents, including some released Monday as well as earlier this month, show higher-ups at Fox News repeatedly doubting Giuliani’s credibility.
At the time, the former New York mayor was pushing unfounded claims that Dominion’s voting machines were switching votes from Trump to Joe Biden, among other outrageous assertions, often alongside another now-former Trump lawyer, Sidney Powell.
Rupert Murdoch, the founder and chairman of Fox News, made several claims disparaging Giuliani and doubting the veracity of his claims. According to court documents released Monday, on November 7, 2020, Murdoch told Col Allan, former editor-in-chief of The New York Post, which is owned by Murdoch: “Just saw a bit of Rudy ranting. A terrible influence on Donald.”
Two days later Murdoch told a friend, General Jack Keane, a Fox News security analyst, that he thought some of the claims about the election could be true but that Trump “needs better lawyers than Rudy, who is past his prime,” the documents said.
Around November 16, Murdoch said in an email to Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott that he thought Trump would “concede eventually,” adding “we should concentrate on Georgia, helping any way we can” in an apparent reference to the Senate runoff election.
Murdoch added “We don’t want to antagonize Trump further” and that Giuliani should be “taken with a large grain of salt,” according to the documents.
After Giuliani and Powell held a press conference on November 19, Murdoch told Scott: “Terrible stuff damaging everybody, I fear. Probably hurting us too.” Scott agreed, according to the court documents, and added “yes Sean and even Pirro agrees,” in a possible reference to Fox hosts Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro.
He also sent an email to Robert Thomson, CEO of News Corp — which is also run by Murdoch — with a subject line that read: “Watching Giuliani!” according to the documents. The email said: “Really crazy stuff. And damaging.”
On November 11, 2020, Fox News host Sean Hannity said, “Rudy is acting like an insane person,” according to the court documents. On December 22, also said “F’ing lunatics” in reference to Giuliani, the documents said.
On January 12, 2021, Fox News Host Laura Ingraham said, “Rudy is such an idiot,” the documents said.
In a statement provided to Insider, a Fox News spokesperson said: “Dominion’s lawsuit has always been more about what will generate headlines than what can withstand legal and factual scrutiny, as illustrated by them now being forced to slash their fanciful damages demand by more than half a billion dollars after their own expert debunked its implausible claims. Their summary judgment motion took an extreme, unsupported view of defamation law that would prevent journalists from basic reporting and their efforts to publicly smear FOX for covering and commenting on allegations by a sitting President of the United States should be recognized for what it is: a blatant violation of the First Amendment.”
Giuliani did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.