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Amid disastrous ratings and Trump scandals, Fox personalities return to election lies

In the midst of tanking prime-time ratings and embarrassing public squabbles with fired prime-time star Tucker Carlson, and after more than a week of bending over backward to rationalize former President Donald Trump’s second criminal indictment, Fox News has employed a familiar strategy to stop the bleeding: The network is back to rehashing conservative grievances and pushing lies about election interference

Despite agreeing to a settlement with Dominion Voting Systems to pay $787 million for platforming false narratives to drive financial profit, Fox News has once again returned to election lies, this time claiming that the supposed politicization of federal agencies is being actualized in targeted attacks on Republican candidates to sway elections. (The fact that these conspiracy theories have been debunked again and again and again is seemingly irrelevant to the network.)

For now, the rhetoric appears to be a successful Band-Aid: On June 13, Fox News was the top cable news network, beating both MSNBC and CNN in prime-time viewership. But as the Dominion lawsuit demonstrated, the network’s drive for ratings complements its contempt for the truth, leaving viewers misled and the network exposed as a right-wing propaganda outlet.

Below are several recent examples of Fox News personalities attempting to push election conspiracy theories and sow doubt about the integrity of federal elections:

  • Claims that federal agencies interfered with past presidential elections and are seeking to influence the 2024 presidential election

    • The Five co-host Jeanine Pirro said the Justice Department, FBI, and CIA have been “weaponized” against Trump. Pirro ranted, “What we had is the FBI telling social media, ‘You can expect that there's going to be Russian disinformation in the form of a Hunter Biden laptop.’ And that's when they interfered with the presidential election for the second time.” [Fox News, The Five, 6/9/23]
    • After Trump attorney Alina Habba claimed the FBI was “taking away the American people's right to go into a ballot box and decide fair and square who they want to clean up the mess that has become America,” host Jesse Watters agreed: “This is actually the third election in a row that the Department of Justice, the FBI, the CIA has involved themselves in against Donald Trump.” Later in the interview, Habba continued to spread conspiracy theories about Trump’s indictment as it relates to the upcoming election: “It's a sad attempt for political interference. There's election interference.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 6/8/23]
    • Fox News contributor Charlie Hurt asserted, “It would not be the first time a sitting administration went after Donald Trump, their political opponent, at the height of an election.” He continued, “It's exactly what happened in 2016. And so where did Joe Biden get this? He got that from the last Democratic administration.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 6/8/23]
    • Right-wing activist Ned Ryun declared: “The administrative state views Donald Trump as an existential threat. That's why they meddled in the 2016 elections, that's why they meddled in 2020, and that’s why they’re meddling again in 2024.” [Fox News, Fox News Tonight, 6/8/23]
    • Hurt repeated his election conspiracy theories on Fox News Tonight, stating, “When you look back at the interference by the DOJ and by the FBI in our presidential elections, with each election, that interference gets more and more dangerous.” He continued: “Today, you have an administration threatening to jail a political opponent to keep him from running for president. That's terrifying.” [Fox News, Fox News Tonight, 6/8/23]
    • Fox host Sean Hannity demanded Republicans conduct “a top to bottom analysis of what the hell is going on there, considering they [the FBI] have put their cinder blocks on the scales of not one, not two, but now it's looking like even three presidential elections.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 6/9/23]
    • Hannity asked, “Is this more election interference from our very own federal government?” He then continued by answering his own question, “Here’s the DOJ with the FBI striking once again: stacking 37 charges against Donald Trump, including violations of the Espionage Act for allegedly mishandling classified material while giving Biden, just like Hillary, a free pass for also allegedly mishandling classified material.” [Fox News, Hannity, 6/13/23]
    • Fox host Laura Ingraham claimed that “a lot of Americans” were thinking, “We have the Justice Department's finger on the scale of our political system with this indictment.” Article III Project President Mike Davis jumped in on the conspiracy-mongering, adding, “It is very obvious that this was a political hit by Biden and Garland to take out Trump for the 2024 presidential election. They did this same play in 2016.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 6/8/23]
    • Ingraham insisted, “So the DOJ might, might be able to meddle in another election, courtesy of federal investigations, but soon enough there will be a critical mass of Americans who simply say, ‘I will not comply.’” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 6/13/23]
    • Hannity claimed the FBI rigged the last “five elections in a row” to elect Democrats. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 6/14/23]
  • Claims that sow doubt and mistrust in previous — and future — presidential elections

    • Fox host Greg Gutfeld warned against arresting Trump. He asked, “And when you arrest your rival, you think that people think the election in 2020 was corrupt? You think they are going to buy the results of this?” [Fox News, The Five, 6/9/23]
    • Fox guest Victor Davis Hanson suggested that Trump’s most recent indictment  “destroys all the credibility of the United States as a moral arbiter of democracy and constitutional government.” [Fox News, Fox News Tonight, 6/8/23]
    • Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner argued that with the U.S. now “less than 18 months out from an election, a new administration,” the indictment is “politically dangerously close to the point where people begin to question everything now.” [Fox News, Fox News Tonight, 6/8/23]
    • Trump attorney Habba said she wants a country where people are “not predisposed to this kind of retribution, and political interference and election interference.” [Fox News, Fox News Tonight, 6/8/23]
    • Fox host Mark Levin ranted that Attorney General Merrick Garland made the decision to indict Donald Trump and thus to “interfere in this election.” He declared, “This is an insurrection.” [Fox News, Hannity, 6/8/23]
    • Fox host Jesse Watters claimed that the 2024 presidential election is “already not a free and fair election.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 6/14/23]
    • Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy suggested that the U.S. holds elections that are decided by “some federal administrative police state,” rather than elections where “the people of the country get to decide who actually governs." [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 6/14/23]