Donald Trump reportedly called in to the Fox Business Network following the violence by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. But executives wouldn’t allow the then-president on the air, deciding it would be “irresponsible” to provide him with a platform, a court filing has revealed.
Trump dialed in to “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” attempting to get on the program, according to the bombshell brief filed Thursday by attorneys for Dominion Voting Systems. The company is suing Fox News and its parent, the Fox Corporation, for $1.6 billion over alleged defamation.
But Fox Business Network President Lauren Petterson said the network believed “it would be irresponsible to put him on air” and that Trump’s words “could impact a lot of people in a negative way,” according to testimony quoted in the brief.
The host of the program, Lou Dobbs, was a staunch supporter of Trump and his baseless claims that he lost the 2020 presidential vote due to a rigged election. Dobbs regularly interviewed Trump and his allies on the air during his presidency.
Fox canceled Dobbs’ show just weeks after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
The House select committee that investigated the riot was unaware during its probe that Trump had reached out to Fox that day, a source told CNN.
Fox is defending itself in Dominion’s defamation case by arguing that freedom of the press and freedom of speech are protected by the Constitution. But courts in the past have ruled that deliberate lying is not always protected.
Dominion argued in the brief that Fox News hosts and executives did not believe Trump’s rigged election lie yet deliberately continued to peddle the story on the network.
Trump could not be reached for comment.
A Fox spokesperson sent the following statement: “There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners, but the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by New York Times v. Sullivan.”
This story has been updated to include a statement from Fox News.