Fox News host Howard Kurtz, who anchors a weekly show on the media industry, said he has been told not to cover the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit filed against Fox by Dominion Voting Systems.
“Some of you have been asking why I’m not covering the Dominion voting machines lawsuit against Fox involving the unproven claims of election fraud in 2020, and it’s absolutely a fair question,” he said midway through Sunday morning’s program. “I believe I should be covering it. It’s a major media story, given my role here at Fox. But the company has decided that as part of the organization being sued, I can’t talk about it or write about it, at least for now.”
Kurtz, who formerly covered media for The Washington Post and hosted CNN’s “Reliable Sources” program, voiced opposition to Fox’s decision, a rare showing of internal protest on the network’s airwaves.
“I strongly disagree with that decision, but as an employee, I have to abide by it,” the 69-year-old said. “And if that changes, I’ll let you know.”
On Feb. 16, a Dominion filing made public by a Delaware court provided evidence that many of Fox News’s prominent hosts and executives doubted the veracity of fraud claims made on Fox programs by Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, two lawyers affiliated with President Donald Trump, regarding Dominion Voting Systems and the 2020 election.
The document — which contained private text messages and emails from Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, as well as top executives Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch — made waves in the media industry but has received sparse coverage on Fox.
Soon after Dominion’s lawsuit, Fox filed a counterclaim, alleging that Dominion can’t prove its damages and claiming that it had filed the lawsuit to create headlines and discourage free speech.
Kurtz and a Fox News spokesperson didn’t respond to requests for comment Sunday night. In previous remarks to The Post, Fox dismissed the relevance of Dominion’s filing, saying it contained “cherry-picked quotes stripped of key context.”
“There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners,” a spokesperson said this month, “but 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.”
Kurtz has been previously criticized by some Fox viewers for reporting facts about the 2020 election. But he has said that journalists have an obligation to push back against unsubstantiated claims, noting in a February 2021 article that “when Trump is claiming the election is rigged, anchors have a responsibility at the very least to ask skeptical questions.” Later that year, Kurtz wrote on Twitter that Trump supporters criticized him after he covered election review results that confirmed Trump lost to Joe Biden in an Arizona county.
Dominion is arguing that Fox and some of its hosts publicly backed baseless claims about the voting company rigging the 2020 election in a way that ensured Trump’s defeat. The firm alleges that Fox purposely aired misinformation to boost ratings.