Last week, Fox News ran a pre-taped segment during Lou Dobbs’ show that appeared to debunk the unfounded claims made by some of the network’s hosts about corrupted voting machines in November’s election. The segment re-aired during Jeanine Pirro’s show Sunday. And NewsMax, one of President Trump’s favorite outlets, began covering its tracks recently, as well. Much to the chagrin of some of its fans, the network put a page on its website “clarifying” its election conspiracy theory coverage, airing a similar segment on TV, as well.
Ben Smith, The New York Times‘ media columnist, and others have suggested the shift is related to legal threats from voting machine companies Smartmatic and Dominion that are alleging defamation. Fox, Smith writes, should take the threat seriously, but it can probably handle drawn-out, expensive litigation, and — despite the opinion of certain hosts — the network, as a whole, doesn’t seem too interested in remaining in Trump’s good graces these days anyway.
The lawsuits could, however, be “existential” for smaller outlets like NewsMax or One America News Network, which would like to transform into a “Trump TV” of sorts going forward, Smith writes. To do that, he says, they’ll need big-time investors, but legal action could scare off potential buyers.
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