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 election in 2020 was stolen from former President Donald J. Trump, court documents released on Monday showed.
“They endorsed,” Mr. Murdoch said under oath in response to direct questions about the hosts Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, a legal filing by Dominion Voting Systems said. “I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it in hindsight.”
Mr. Murdoch’s remarks, which he made last month as part of the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox by Dominion, added to the evidence that Dominion has accumulated in an attempt to prove its central allegation: The people running the country’s most popular news network knew Mr. Trump’s claims of voter fraud during the 2020 election were false but broadcast them anyway.
The new documents and a similar batch released this month revealed that top executives and on-air hosts reacted with incredulity bordering on contempt to the various fictitious allegations about Dominion, including that a secret algorithm in its machines allowed votes to be switched from one candidate to another and that the company was founded in Venezuela to help that country’s longtime leader, Hugo Chávez, fix elections.
The filing casts Mr. Murdoch as a chairman who was both deeply engaged with his senior leadership about coverage of the election and operating at somewhat of a remove, unwilling to interfere. Asked by Dominion’s lawyer, Justin Nelson, whether he could have ordered Fox News to keep Trump lawyers like Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani off the air, Mr. Murdoch responded: “I could have. But I didn’t.”
The filing helps fill in the broader case against Fox News and its corporate parent, Fox Corporation, that Dominion lawyers hope to present to a jury in April, when a Delaware judge has scheduled the trial to begin.
A Fox News spokeswoman said on Monday in response to the filing that Dominion’s view of defamation law took “an extreme, unsupported view of defamation law that would prevent journalists from basic reporting.”