What Rupert Murdoch Said Under Oath About Fox News’ 2020 Election Claims

On February 28 2023, a popular post on Imgur asserted that Fox News “lied … about the 2020 election,” and that chairman and right-wing media mogul Rupert Murdoch had testified to that fact under oath.

Text on a circulating meme (since deleted and archived above) was credited to Twitter user Jeff Tiedrich, and it largely matched a tweet by Tiedrich (also shared to Imgur as a screenshot). On the version above, “stupids” was replaced with “Trumpers,” and it read:

Fact Check

Claim: In a deposition under oath, Rupert Murdoch acknowledged that Fox News hosts misrepresented the 2020 election to viewers.

Description: In a deposition, Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox Corporation, acknowledged that some Fox News hosts endorsed false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. This information was made public as part of a Dominion’s

.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News.


Rating Explanation: Multiple reliable sources and court documents corroborate the claim that Rupert Murdoch acknowledged under oath that some Fox News hosts had misrepresented the 2020 election.

listen up, stupids [Trumpers]:

Fox News lied to you about the 2020 election. They lied to you and they knew they were lying. Yell at me all you want, but Rupert Murdoch testified to this, under oath. How’s it feel to be played like a fiddle?

Commenters expressed skepticism that the claim, if true, would have any effects on viewers’ trust of Fox News:

“They literally dont even care. They saw and heard exactly what they wanted. They’ll continue watching fox as if nothing ever happened.”

“They do not care. It fed into their hate and ideologies.”

“They probably believe Murdoch lied under oath. Which is kind of understandable, given how much he lies.”

“Cognitive dissonance is so embedded with some people, it literally physically hurts to think contrary to what they think so deeply.”

A Facebook post by author and historian Heather Cox Richardson addressed many of the same topics. On February 27 2023, a Reddit account shared a related news story to the r/news subreddit — “Rupert Murdoch acknowledged that Fox News hosts endorsed stolen election claims”:

That post linked to a February 27 2023 CNN Business article. Its general claims covered a series of depositions in the course of a specific lawsuit against Fox News.

deposition was defined by University of Washington School of Law professor Jeff Feldman as follows:

A deposition is an opportunity for parties in a civil lawsuit to obtain testimony from a witness under oath prior to trial. It’s part of the discovery process by which parties gather facts and information so they can be better prepared at trial to present their claims and defenses.


Usually, depositions are held in the offices of one of the lawyers in the case. After the witness is placed under oath, each party is given an opportunity to ask questions and obtain answers about the issues that are raised in the case. Usually, depositions last a maximum of seven hours, but most depositions actually last a bit less than that.

CNN, referencing depositions (some of which took place in August 2022), reported:

Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox Corporation, acknowledged in a deposition taken by Dominion Voting Systems that some Fox News hosts endorsed false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

Murdoch’s remarks were made public in a legal filing as part of Dominion’s $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News.

In his deposition, Murdoch rejected that the right-wing talk network as an entity endorsed former President Donald Trump’s election lies. But Murdoch conceded that Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo, and former host Lou Dobbs promoted the falsehood about the presidential contest being stolen.

“Some of our commentators were endorsing it,,” Murdoch said, according to the filing, when asked about the talk hosts’ on-air positions about the election. “I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it, in hindsight,” he added.

The filing also revealed that Murdoch referred to some of Trump’s 2020 election lies as “bulls**t and damaging.”

The New York Times published an “interactive” piece featuring court documents on February 27 2023. A separate article about Murdoch’s deposition indicated that his statements were made in January 2023:

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the conservative media empire that owns Fox News, acknowledged in a deposition that several hosts for his networks promoted the false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald J. Trump, and that he could have stopped them but didn’t, court documents released on [February 27 2023] showed.


Mr. Murdoch’s remarks, which he made [in January 2023] as part of Dominion’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox, added to the evidence that Dominion has accumulated as it tries to prove its central allegation: The people running the country’s most popular news network knew Mr. Trump’s claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election were false but broadcast them anyway in a reckless pursuit of ratings and profit … The filings also revealed that top executives and on-air hosts had reacted with incredulity bordering on contempt to various fictitious allegations about Dominion. These included unsubstantiated rumors — repeatedly uttered by guests and hosts of Fox programs — that its voting machines could run a secret algorithm that switched votes from one candidate to another, and that the company was founded in Venezuela to help that country’s longtime leader, Hugo Chávez, fix elections.

A nearly 200-page-long document was uploaded to the “interactive” feature. An “Introduction” section of the document highlighted comments made by Murdoch and others in the course of the depositions:

rupert murdoch deposition transcript

A February 28 2022 Salon.com article focused on other details observed in the depositions, including information about 2020 election night conversations between Murdoch and former White House advisor Jared Kushner:

Murdoch and Kushner communicated during the 2020 campaign and on election night [in November 2020]. Murdoch in his deposition recalled Kushner’s outreach after the network called Arizona for President Joe Biden.

“My friend Jared Kushner called me saying, ‘This is terrible,’ and I could hear Trump’s voice in the background shouting,” he said, according to the filing. “And I said, ‘Well, the numbers are the numbers.'”

“Sorry, Jared, there is nothing I can do,” Kushner quoted Murdoch as saying. “The Fox News data authority says the numbers are ironclad — he says it won’t be close.”

Democratic strategist Sawyer Hackett called the revelation that Murdoch passed confidential information to Kushner a “bombshell.”

“Holy s**t,” tweeted Fred Wellman, the former executive director of the Lincoln Project, suggesting that the move may have run afoul of federal campaign finance laws surrounding “in-kind” contributions, or non-monetary campaign contributions.

In a widely quoted February 27 2023 statement, Fox News addressed the newly unsealed depositions and said in part:

… [Dominion’s lawsuit] has always been more about what will generate headlines than what can withstand legal and factual scrutiny … 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.

A popular February 27 2023 tweet claimed that “Rupert Murdoch testified … under oath” that Fox News hosts intentionally misrepresented the outcome of the 2020 election to its viewers. On that date, Murdoch’s deposition was unsealed and widely reported upon. In the deposition, Murdoch acknowledged that “some of” Fox News’ on-air personalities “were endorsing” election falsehoods, adding that he “would have liked [Fox News] to be stronger in denouncing it, in hindsight.”

Update, September 21 2023, 6:16 PM (kl): On September 21 2023, Rupert Murdoch announced his retirement from Fox News and News Corp., appointing his son Lachlan Murdoch as his successor.

Murdoch’s retirement was disclosed in a statement, which bore the title “K. Rupert Murdoch to be Appointed Chairman Emeritus of Fox Corporation and News Corp.” The statement began:

Following a career that began nearly 70 years ago in 1954, Fox Corporation (“FOX”) (Nasdaq: FOXA, FOX) and News Corporation (“News Corp”) (Nasdaq: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NWS, NWSLV) announced today [September 21 2023] that Rupert Murdoch is stepping down as chairman of each board effective as of the upcoming Annual General Meeting of Shareholders of each company in mid-November [2023]. Mr. Murdoch will be appointed Chairman Emeritus of each company. Following the Annual General Meetings, Lachlan Murdoch will become sole Chair of News Corp and continue as Executive Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Fox Corporation[.]

As indicated, Rupert Murdoch would assume the role of “Chairman Emeritus” as of “mid-November” 2023. A CNN article published on the same date included context about Murdoch’s influence on the American news landscape, particularly on issues like climate change and election denial:

Murdoch-owned outlets also have a long history of undermining and down-playing climate science. In the US, Fox News has become a home to climate change conspiracy theories and the people who proliferate them. While Murdoch has said many times that he does not support climate denial, his outlets have continued to push climate doubt and platform climate skeptics.

“Nobody has done more harm to the understanding of climate change than Rupert Murdoch, who has wielded his global media network as a weapon to sow doubt and confusion about the basic science and the case for action,” Michael Mann, a renowned climate scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, told CNN.

In recent years, under Murdoch, Fox News has advanced baseless conspiracy theories, including [falsehoods] the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2020 presidential election.

The lies Fox News pushed about the election spawned two massive defamation lawsuits from voting technology companies Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic.

The New York Times published a retrospective into Murdoch’s career (“How Rupert Murdoch Built His Media Empire,”) and reported that Fox News’ trajectory during and after the 2016 election led to a rift within the family:

[Son] James Murdoch resigned from News Corp in 2020 because of “disagreements over certain editorial content published by the Company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions.”

Rupert Murdoch was deposed in 2023 in Dominion Voting Systems’ lawsuit over Fox News’s coverage of allegations of fraud in the 2020 presidential election, and he acknowledged that the network had endorsed false statements. The network settled the landmark defamation case for $787.5 million in April [2023].

In September 2023, Mr. Murdoch leaves the reins of Fox and News Corp to Lachlan Murdoch. The elder Murdoch remains chairman emeritus of the two companies.

CNN quoted an internal memo to employees attributed to Murdoch:

“For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change … But the time is right for me to take on different roles, knowing that we have truly talented teams.”

The Hollywood Reporter tweeted a different excerpt from Murdoch’s purported farewell, lambasting “elites” and their “rarefied class”; Murdoch was listed as having a net worth of $17.4 billion on Forbes‘ “The Richest in 2023” list, as of September 21 2023:

“Elites have open contempt for those who are not members of their rarefied class. Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth.”

While the term “elites” may sound odd coming from a lifelong media mogul, it is also a fairly common antisemitic dog whistle:

“Cosmopolitan” and “elite” are terms that have separately incited antisemites across the political spectrum. Based on stereotypes of Jewish wealth and insularity, Jews have been accused of being part of an elite class for centuries. In the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, for instance, Jews were charged with being “rootless cosmopolitans” and fell victim to Stalin’s anti-cosmopolitan campaign where they were arrested and tortured. Today, “cosmopolitan elite” is a code word used by the far-right to accuse Jews and liberals of controlling America and/or being disloyal and unpatriotic by favoring internationalism over isolationism.

Dog whistles and signaling rely on plausible deniability for efficacy:

Murdoch’s retirement followed Fox News’ $787.5 million settlement of a lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems, filed in relation to the network’s relentless promulgation of falsehoods about election security after the 2016 election. A separate suit brought by the voting machine company Smartmatic had yet to be resolved as of September 2023.

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