At one point, it was hard for Fox viewers to avoid Rudolph W. Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis.
But Giuliani and Powell have not appeared on any Fox cable news show in more than a month, according to a review by The Washington Post. Giuliani’s last appearance was Dec. 12 and Powell’s was Dec. 10 on “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” a show that was once a regular vehicle for both her and Giuliani. Ellis has appeared only once on the networks since early December.
In November and December, all three were frequent guests on Fox News and Fox Business Network shows, sometimes doing double duty, as Powell did in appearing on shows hosted by Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity on the same night — even though she had already been booted from the Trump campaign’s efforts. Ellis appeared on three Fox News Media shows on Nov. 20.
The network would not comment on the trio’s absence. But the timing of their disappearance aligns with the first legal pushback from a pair of voting-technology companies that say they’ve been falsely smeared by baseless conspiratorial claims of election fraud by Trump allies.
On Dec. 10, the day of Powell’s last “Lou Dobbs” appearance, an attorney for Smartmatic sent a letter to the general counsel for Fox News Media demanding that Fox retract and apologize for “[publishing] and [republishing] dozens of false and misleading statements regarding Smartmatic” in the weeks following the Nov. 3 presidential election.
The legal demand letter prominently alleged “demonstrably false information and defamatory statements about Smartmatic” that were made by guests Giuliani and Powell on shows hosted by Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo. Ellis was not mentioned by name in the letter.
The three lawyers had all appeared regularly on shows hosted by Bartiromo, the longtime financial journalist who has become a reliable supporter of the president and has suggested to viewers in post-election shows that Trump could still manage to claim a second term.
Dobbs, meanwhile, had promoted Powell’s last appearance by calling her florid claims of a global conspiracy involving the election-technology companies a “cyber Pearl Harbor,” writing that she “reveals groundbreaking new evidence indicating our Presidential election came under massive cyber-attack orchestrated with the help of Dominion, Smartmatic, and foreign adversaries.”
In response, Fox aired a segment attempting to correct misinformation about Smartmatic on the shows that were mentioned in the letter. On Dec. 20, a law firm representing Dominion Voting Systems, another voting-technology company that had been criticized on Fox, sent legal preservation letters to Bartiromo, Dobbs and Hannity. The network has not aired any segment responding to the legal threat from Dominion.
While Giuliani remains a member of the president’s legal team, his name has almost disappeared from Fox’s airwaves. At the peak of his influence, as a key member of the Trump 2020 efforts to overturn the election, Giuliani was mentioned 324 times on Fox News or Fox Business Network during the week of Nov. 17. Approximately a month later, during the week of Dec. 15, Giuliani’s name was mentioned only 13 times.
On the morning of Jan. 6, when the pro-Trump audience was still listening to speeches discounting the veracity of the election, Fox News chief White House correspondent John Roberts informed viewers that he had spoken to Giuliani about 45 minutes earlier, relaying that Giuliani was confident Vice President Pence could decline to certify the election. But the network did not air Giuliani’s comments to Roberts.
Smartmatic and Dominion also demanded retractions from Fox’s lesser-known competitors in conservative media, including Newsmax, One America News and the Epoch Times. In response to Smartmatic’s demands, Newsmax issued a sweeping clarification on the air on Dec. 21. “No evidence has been offered that Dominion or Smartmatic used software or reprogrammed software that manipulated votes in the 2020 election,” a Newsmax host said. In contrast, OAN has issued no such retraction or clarification.
Powell has also been absent from Newsmax’s programming and does not appear to be slated for future appearances on the network.
Giuliani appeared on OAN last week to talk about his participation in the pro-Trump rally before the storming of the U.S. Capitol. “They seemed pretty orderly and pretty quiet,” Giuliani said of the Trump supporters. “You’re going to see that 99 percent of this was all peaceful,” OAN host Dan Ball replied. He also spoke earlier with OAN chief White House correspondent Chanel Rion about election issues and about legal challenges in Pennsylvania and Michigan. “They stole an election from us,” he said.
OAN President Charles Herring told The Washington Post in an email this week: “If there is something newsworthy to discuss, we are pleased to have Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell on OAN.”
After last week’s riot at the Capitol, Cumulus Media, one of the biggest players in conservative talk radio, issued a memorandum ordering programmers to put an end to on-air rhetoric casting the election results as in doubt. It’s unknown whether legal liability concerns were a factor in the decision. Two of their most prominent and outspoken hosts, Mark Levin and Dan Bongino, both said this week that they did not receive the memo.