In the weeks after the 2020 election — and in the lead-up to the January 6 insurrection — Sean Hannity and other Fox News broadcasters gave extensive coverage to conspiracy theories about a plot to rig the election against President Donald Trump. Even as the channel devoted airtime to wild conspiracy theories, many of which revolved around alleged interference from voting machine maker Dominion Voting Systems, many wondered how much Hannity or the other employees of Fox News actually believed these stories.
The answer? Apparently, not at all.
“I did not believe it for one second,” Hannity said in a deposition for a lawsuit from Dominion against Fox News and the Fox Corporation, according to the New York Times. The deposition was made public during a December 21 hearing for the case, which sees Dominion suing the cable news giant for $1.6 billion, alleging defamation.
Hannity wasn’t alone; according to Dominion’s lawyer Stephen Shackelford during the Delaware Superior Court hearing, “not a single Fox witness” produced anything supporting the claims made against Dominion during their news coverage, and other high-profile heads at the network shared Hannity’s disbelief about the rhetoric the network was pushing, such as prime-time programming head Meade Cooper and fellow host Tucker Carlson.
According to Shackelford, Carlson “tried to squirm out of it at his deposition” when asked about his beliefs. Shackelford referred to text messages sent by the host between November and December 2020 before judge Eric M. David cut him off.
During the hearing, a second Dominion lawyer Justin Nelson said that the company obtained evidence that an unnamed employee of the Fox Corporation attempted to intervene with the White House to get Trump to cut ties with Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor and a frequent guest of Fox News who helped spread the fraud claims.
During the case, Judge Davis ruled that evidence Dominion used against Fox in its court filings will be kept under seal and unavailable to the public but warned both parties that that position could be reversed.
The Dominion lawsuit will head to jury trial this April. The suit was first filed in March 2021, shortly after the January 6 insurrection. According to a statement from Fox lawyer Dan K. Webb during the hearing, the company has produced more than 52,000 email and text messages from employees of Fox News and the Fox Corporation for use in the upcoming trial.