SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2023
Can anyone here play this game?: Will Dominion Voting Systems win its lawsuit against Fox?
We can't answer that question. Reviewing a report in today's New York Times, a different question came to mind:
Can anyone here play this game?
This new report attempts to supplement prior reporting about Sidney Powell's unsupported claim—the unsupported, crackpot claim that Dominion's voting machines had been used to steal the 2020 election.
More specifically, the new report attempts to supplement prior reporting about what was being said on the air at Fox about this matter, as opposed to what Fox personnel were saying about Powell in private. The new report appears beneath this headline:
What Fox News Hosts Said Privately vs. Publicly About Voter Fraud
The new report supplements prior reporting on this topic through the use of eleven brief video clips. For that reason, it only appears online.
That said, can anyone here play this game? The basic journalistic blocking and tackling in this new report is very poor. This includes the short accounts of what various Fox players said at various points in time—short accounts which appear beneath the relevant video clips.
In our view, the basic journalistic blocking and tackling is very poor. For today, we'll call attention to just one matter—to the report's account of what Tucker Carlson said on the air on November 19, 2020 as part of his nightly program.
As a matter of fairness, it should be said—Carlson wasn't endorsing Powell's claim on the air that night. Here's the first part of the New York Times' account of what he said:
THOMPSON ET AL (2/25/23): [On November 19], Mr. Carlson eviscerated Ms. Powell in a brutal 10-minute monologue, dissecting her claims as unreliable and unproven. He said the show had repeatedly asked her for evidence and, “when we kept pressing, she got angry and told us to stop contacting her.”
At that point, the Times report offers a 32-second clip from Carlson's ten-minute evisceration of Powell. That was a tiny sample of what Carlson had said—and the report then says this:
THOMPSON ET AL (continuing directly): In the same monologue, however, Mr. Carlson also gave some credence to Ms. Powell’s claims, saying that “we don’t dismiss anything anymore” and that he is “hopeful” she will come forward with evidence.
At that point, the Times offers a second, 27-second clip of what Carlson said that night.
Did Carlson actually "give some credence to Powell's claims" during his ten-minute monologue? We'd call that a fairly large stretch.
The Times does include a link to the full transcript and videotape of Carlson's "brutal 10-miniute monologue." Below, you see a substantial chunk of what Carlson said that night:
CARLSON (11/19/20): For more than a week, Powell has been all over conservative media with the following story: This election was stolen by a collection of international leftists who manipulated vote tabulating software in order to flip millions of votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. The other day on television, Powell said of Trump that when the fraud is finally uncovered, "I think we'll find he had at least 80 million votes." In other words, rigged software stole about seven million votes in this election.
On Sunday night, "Tucker Carlson Tonight" texted her after watching one of her segments. What Powell was describing would amount to the single greatest crime in American history. Millions of votes stolen in a day, democracy destroyed, the end of our centuries-old system of self-government. Not a small thing.
Now, to be perfectly clear, we did not dismiss any of it. We don't dismiss anything anymore, particularly when it's related to technology. We've talked to too many Silicon Valley whistleblowers and we've seen too much after four years on the air. We literally do UFO segments, not because we're crazy or even interested in the subject, but because there is evidence that UFOs are real and everyone lies about it.
There's evidence that a lot of things that responsible people dismiss out of hand as ridiculous are, in fact, real. The louder the Yale political science department and the staff of The Atlantic magazine scream "conspiracy theory," the more interested we tend to be. That's usually a sign you're over the target. A lot of people with impressive-sounding credentials in this country are frauds who have no idea what they're doing. They're children posing as authorities. And when they're caught, they lie and then they blame you for it. We see that every day. It's the central theme of our show and will continue to be.
That's a long way of saying we took Sidney Powell seriously, with no intention of fighting with her. We've always respected her work and we simply wanted to see the details. How could you not want to see them? So we invited Sidney Powell on the show. We would have given her the whole hour. We would have given her the entire week, actually, and listened quietly the whole time at rapt attention.
But she never sent us any evidence, despite a lot of polite requests. When we kept pressing, she got angry and told us to stop contacting her. When we checked with others around the Trump campaign, people in positions of authority, they also told us Powell had never given them any evidence to prove anything she claimed at the press conference.
Powell did say that electronic voting is dangerous, and she's right, but she never demonstrated that a single actual vote was moved illegitimately by software from one candidate to another. Not one.
Oof! Online, this commentary appears beneath these headlines:
Tucker Carlson: Time for Sidney Powell to show us her evidence
We asked the Trump campaign attorney for proof of her bombshell claims. She gave us nothing.
In our view, the original reporting on this matter may have been somewhat misleading. Readers may have come away with the impression that Carlson was calling Powell crazy in private while endorsing her claims on the air.
In point of fact, Dominion is suing Fox News; it isn't suing Carlson. In the legal filings which have been released to date, most of its complaints concern the attacks on Dominion which were broadcast on programs hosted by Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Jeannine Pirro.
Carlson did blast Powell that night. Given the way the original reporting on this matter has been understood, we thought it was worth noting what Carlson actually said in that broadcast.
And no, Fox viewers didn't like it! The Times report continues as shown:
THOMPSON ET AL (continuing directly from above): Viewers expressed outrage at Mr. Carlson for challenging a prominent Trump ally. And Mr. Trump’s associates quickly jumped to her defense.
A link led to this real-time report in the Times about the outrage among Fox viewers.
We aren't mentioning the parts of today's report where we thought the blocking and tackling were least impressive. Nor are we attempting to tell you how well, or how poorly, Carlson performed in the months and years which followed with respect to claims that the election was stolen.
Our very strong assumption would be that he performed very poorly.
That said, Dominion's lawsuit only concerns claims which were made about Dominion. The lawsuit doesn't attempt to evaluate the work of major Fox players like Carlson in a more general sense.
In our view, Carlson's work is routinely disgraceful (though not always). That said, we were surprised to go back and read the transcript of that monologue. We thought that you might be surprised by it too.
Meanwhile, can anyone here play this game? We just watched the part of last night's program, The Beat, which focused on library books in Florida's schools.
Can anyone here play this game? After watching that report, we came up with a quick answer:
Reports on Fox are routinely a clown show. So was that effort last night.
More and more and more and more, it seems to us that almost everything we read or see comes to us Straight Outta Script. Can a major nation function this way? Experts all seem to say no!