Jenna Ellis, a Republican lawyer who participated in Donald Trump’s scheme to subvert the results of the 2020 election, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis’ election interference case against the former president and his alleged accomplices. Ellis used the airwaves of Fox News and its sister channel, Fox Business, to push false election claims, even as the network’s stars privately disparaged her — but now Fox has all but ignored her guilty plea in Trump’s case.
Ellis, who had faced charges which included participating in what prosecutors called a “criminal enterprise” to reverse Trump’s defeat in Georgia, pleaded guilty to a felony count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings. She has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, which could include giving testimony at trial, and said in a statement to the court that she had “failed to do my due diligence” and feels “deep remorse” for her actions.
Fox has kept its viewers in the dark about Ellis’ plea, which received extensive coverage on CNN and MSNBC. Fox News provided only about 3 minutes of coverage across 2 segments while Fox Business had not mentioned it at all, according to a Media Matters review through 3 p.m. ET.
Fox’s lack of coverage around Ellis’ guilty plea is particularly relevant given that she had used the networks’ platforms to promote election falsehoods. Ellis appeared on Fox News and its sister channel, Fox Business, more than 20 times in the weeks following the 2020 election, according to the Nexis database and Media Matters’ internal database. The bulk of Ellis’ interviews came with hardcore Trumpist election deniers like Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro, and Lou Dobbs, though she was also hosted by “news”-side anchors like Harris Faulkner and Shannon Bream.
Ellis used her Fox interviews to promote election lies — including about Dominion Voting Systems, the technology company that subsequently sued Fox for defamation, eventually reaping a record $787.5 million settlement.
And filings in that lawsuit reveal that inside Fox, the network’s stars knew that Ellis was not a credible voice.
When Ellis appeared on then-Fox prime-time host Tucker Carlson’s show on November 4, 2020, she pushed a viral fake news story that in Michigan, “You have 138,000 votes that magically appear that are all 100% Biden votes.”
“The specific case you are referring to, where 100% of the votes, many votes, were cast for Joe Biden. That doesn’t seem plausible. Will those votes count?” Carlson asked. He later added that “100% of anything ought to make you nervous because it’s probably a crock. And that does not seem believable to me.”
But texts revealed in the Dominion suit show that the next day, Carlson was informed that claim was false.
“Just for heads up jenna ellis she was wrong last night when she said there were a 100k ballots and all for Biden,” he was told.
“Many have said that,” Carlson replied.
Carlson would later criticize Ellis’ claims about Dominion to her directly. On November 21, 2020, he texted her, “Circumstantial won’t work with this story. If there’s no one inside the company willing to talk, or internal Dominion documents or copies of the software showing that they did it, this seems shockingly reckless to me. And as you know there isn’t.”
Carlson and Fox host Laura Ingraham also criticized Ellis in text messages two days later during a discussion about the ineptitude of the Trump legal team.
“Let’s just put it this way, when your WH [White House] counsel has a strong view about the quality of the legal team.… Jenna Ellis…Oy vey. No serious lawyer could believe what they were saying,” Ingraham wrote.
“But they said nothing in public. Pretty disgusting,” Carlson replied.
“That she is even connected in any way to the effort is a fucking joke,” Ingraham added.
But Fox producers happily continued booking that “fucking joke” to push the same election lies to their audience, because Fox is a pro-Trump propaganda network that yoked its own success to that of the former president.
Three years after Trump’s defeat, that means declaring the former president’s myriad prosecutions to be the politically motivated salvos of a Stalinist administration — and paying no mind when the one-time regulars it hosted to defend him now plead guilty to associated crimes.