Sen. Murray: “Here’s the honest truth public figures and other media outlets need to grapple with: Tucker Carlson is determined to make sure Fox ‘News’ is not ‘News’ at all. Fox is a political vehicle for Rupert Murdoch and his right-wing causes. It is a political entity that will gladly push disinformation and lies if it means profits or political gain. Let’s just call it what it is.”
***WATCH: Senator Murray’s floor remarks***
(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), took to the Senate floor to call out the lies being aired by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson regarding the insurrection on January 6th, speak to her own personal experience in the Capitol on that day, and detail how recent revelations from Fox News internal communications reveal Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch used the network to coordinate with Republican political strategists, and that Fox News deliberately spread and promoted lies about the 2020 election to put profits, viewership, and politics ahead of the plain truth.
Senator Murray has previously spoken at length about her experience on January 6th, when she had to lock down inside the Capitol building while it was being stormed by insurrectionists.
“We live in a country with free speech and free press—thank goodness. We have many different points of view. And that all informs a robust debate in our democracy so people can effect change with their voices and their votes, not violence,” said Senator Murray. “But there is a basic premise that debate rests on, a basic responsibility inherent in these important rights: honesty. For our democracy to work, for our great debates to guide it effectively, the people who inform our public—the free press that we so rightly cherish and protect—needs honest brokers.
“And let me be clear, when I say ‘honest,’ I’m not saying reporters have to be utterly objective, or neutral, or impersonal. I’m not even saying they have to be right 100 percent of the time—no one is. But they have to tell to the truth. They have to at least try to tell the truth. They owe that to the people they cover, and the viewers who trust them. That should not be too much to ask—truly it is the barest of minimums. It is the lowest bar.”
“And yet, as the Dominion lawsuit is showing, Fox News has been utterly failing to meet it. In fact, they have been actively pushing lies and disinformation in the most cynical way possible.”
Senator Murray’s speech comes on the heels of Tucker Carlson using his platform on a Fox News prime time show to try and downplay and outright erase the severity of the January 6th insurrection—which led to serious injuries and even death among Capitol police—and amid recent revelations from the Dominion lawsuit that Fox News hosts, producers, and executives understood hosts were platforming conspiracy theorists to spread doubt on the results of the 2020 election, and that Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch used the network as a tool to advantage Republican political operations.
Internal Fox News communications disclosed as part of the Dominion lawsuit have revealed numerous instances of leaders at Fox News making clear they understood the claims being spread by guests and promoted by hosts on Fox News’ programming were false. While the network repeatedly brought on Sidney Powell, who advanced baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, the communications show: host Tucker Carlson told his producer and colleagues Powell was lying; producers for Laura Ingraham and Lou Dobbs told them each that Powell’s claims were “B.S.”; Laura Ingraham herself said Powell was a “complete nut”; and Senior Vice President Shah said Powell was “clearly full of it.”
Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox News, also said in communications that conspiracies like those advanced by regular Fox News guest Rudy Giuliani were “really crazy stuff.” When questioned under oath, Murdoch acknowledged that Fox News hosts endorsed false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
“The depositions and discovery have shown, plain as day, Fox News personalities were spreading dangerous lies and promoting shameless liars, and what’s more—Fox knew it. We aren’t talking about a difference of opinion or an honest mistake. We are talking about fraud in prime time,” said Senator Murray.
Documents from the lawsuit also show Fox News leaders calling to reprimand reporters for fact-checking the false narratives other network hosts were advancing. Tucker Carlson called for a reporter to be fired for a fact-checking tweet about the Dominionconspiracies, SVP Shah made clear another anchor’s decision to cut away from a press conference advancing false conspiracies made him a “brand threat,” and another reporter was scolded by Fox leaders for fact-checking an inaccurate Powell-Giuliani press conference.
“Instead of putting the Big Lie under scrutiny—Fox put it in prime time. And when reporters with the network tried to be accurate, tried to tell the truth, tried to set straight the lies their own network was spreading—they were reprimanded,” said Senator Murray.
The Dominion lawsuit has also made clear that Rupert Murdoch was using Fox News to support and coordinate with political campaigns. Communications reveal Murdoch instructing a top executive after the election the network should “concentrate on Georgia, helping any way we can.” In another bombshell, the lawsuit alleges that Murdoch gave confidential information about the Biden campaign’s 2020 ads and debate strategy to Trump campaign advisor Jared Kushner.
“This is not how a legitimate news organization behaves,” concluded Senator Murray. “Here’s the honest truth public figures and other media outlets need to grapple with: Tucker Carlson is determined to make sure Fox ‘News’ is not ‘News’ at all. Fox is a political vehicle for Rupert Murdoch and his right-wing causes. It is a political entity that will gladly push disinformation and lies if it means profits or political gain. Let’s just call it what it is.”
Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks, as delivered, are below and video is available HERE:
“There are so many challenges facing us as a nation today—as we all know—but there is one overriding concern that I have. If we want our country to thrive, and grow, and be strong, and be a democracy far into the future so we can solve the problems and challenges we face, then we must protect our democracy.
“Democracy. It is the core principal of America. The idea that we are a country where we can debate, and we can have free speech, and our voices matter.
“Americans must be able to trust and believe that all of us here—no matter our opinions or our beliefs—have a shared view that our democracy is sacred. That we all understand what that means and that we have a responsibility as leaders to preserve it. A democracy where we make decisions, we use our voices, we debate, we vote, but we never use brute force to get what we want.
“If we allow brute force to win the day—that, Mr. President would be the end of our democracy.
“Look, we agree and we disagree. We use our words to debate policy. We are passionate about what we believe in. But we all also understand that not everything is debatable. That there is reality in our world that we must understand, and acknowledge, and learn from so we can move forward as a country and make sure we never repeat the mistakes of the past. And I am talking about what happened on January 6, 2021.
“On that day, an attempt was made to overthrow an election, to use brute force and violence to change the outcome. We must agree as a country that using brute force to overturn this democracy is something that we can never allow. And in fact, if we want to solve any of the challenges in front of us, we need to have a strong democracy. Period.
“That is why I have to speak out today about what is happening with the release of the January 6th tapes—and the total misuse by a Fox News personality to distort and change the truth of what happened that day.
“As my colleagues know, I was here during the worst of the January 6th insurrection—and when I say here, I mean here, in the Capitol building.
“I didn’t happen to be on the floor when most Senators were evacuated. Instead, I had to lock down in a room feet from here.
“I heard the crashes as insurrectionists stormed the building. I heard their explicit calls for violence. I heard them banging on my door trying to get in, trying to get me so they could do harm. I know, first hand, that January 6th was a dark, violent chapter in our nation’s history.
“So imagine my shock and my anger to hear a prime time Fox News host trying to downplay this horrific event, trying to say this was just people on a sightseeing tour.
“Now, I have taken constituents on a tour of the Capitol. I’m sure the presiding officer has. You don’t bring gas masks on a tour. You don’t bring pepper spray on a tour. You don’t bring bats, or knives, or tasers. They actually had zip tie hand cuffs in their possession!
“Tourists don’t leave broken glass in the windows. They don’t leave the blood of capitol police officers on the floor. Tourists don’t leave with stolen documents and laptops. They don’t smear feces on the walls. And they don’t put up a gallows outside.
“For Fox News to let Tucker Carlson try and paper over this by showing a few minutes of footage—which by the way, to be clear: even that footage is showing people who walked past gates, barricades, blaring alarms, and police lines, in total disregard of the law, to go somewhere it was abundantly clear that they should not.
“But to show that footage and pretend it tells the full story, while ignoring the reality of footage of offices being ransacked, equipment being stolen, windows broken; ignoring the footage of white supremacists parading these halls with confederate flags and zip tie handcuffs; ignoring the footage of Capitol Police being swarmed and beaten and battered?
“Mr. President, officers suffered cracked ribs and severe brain injuries. One officer lost an eye. Others took their lives in the aftermath.
“To try and paper over it all as a ‘sightseeing tour?’
“Mr. President, there just aren’t words that do my anger justice, and the ones that get closest are simply not suitable for the Senate floor.
“Now, I’m glad some Republican Senators have joined Democrats in calling out how dangerous and disingenuous this kind of coverage—or perhaps more appropriately, cover-up—is. But, honestly—there is a lot more that needs to be said about how we got here.
“New documents from the Dominion lawsuit make clear Fox News knowingly let hosts spread lies about the election and let them enflame the public with baseless conspiracies.
“Now I think my colleagues and the reporters who cover me know I am not one to criticize the media lightly. I don’t cry ‘foul,’ or ‘bias,’ or ‘fake news’ at coverage that I don’t like.
“We live in a country with free speech and free press—thank goodness. We have many different points of view. And that all informs a robust debate in our democracy so people can effect change with their voices and their votes—not violence.
“But there is a basic premise that debate rests on—a basic responsibility inherent in these important rights: Honesty.
“For our democracy to work, for our great debates to guide it effectively, the people who inform our public—the free press that we so rightly cherish and protect—needs honest brokers.
“And let me be clear, when I say ‘honest’, I’m not saying reporters have to be utterly objective, or neutral, or impersonal. I’m not even saying they have to be right 100 percent of the time—no one is.
“But they have to tell to the truth. They have to at least try to tell the truth. They owe that to the people that they cover and the viewers who trust them.
“That should not be too much to ask—truly it is the barest of minimums. It is the lowest bar.
“And yet, as the Dominion lawsuit is showing, Fox News has been utterly failing to meet it. In fact, they have been actively pushing lies and disinformation in the most cynical way possible. The depositions and discovery have shown, plain as day, Fox News personalities were spreading dangerous lies, promoting shameless liars, and what’s more: Fox knew it.
“We aren’t talking about a difference of opinion or an honest mistake. We are talking about fraud in prime time.
“They repeatedly brought on Sidney Powell to spout baseless conspiracies about Dominion voting machines, all the while: Tucker Carlson told his producer Powell was lying; he told his colleague, Laura Ingraham, Powell was lying; Ingraham’s producer texted a Fox executive that he had told her the Dominion conspiracy was ‘B.S.’; Ingraham herself said Powell was a quote ‘complete nut’; Senior Vice President Shah said Powell was ‘clearly full of it’; Lou Dobbs’ producer told him it was ‘complete B.S.’—only for the show to have Powell on three days later.
“I mean the list of people at Fox News who knew President Biden fairly won that election—knew these fraud claims were baseless—goes on and on.
“And in fact, it goes straight to the top.
“Richard Murdoch, owner of Fox News, called Rudy Giuliani’s lies about the election ‘really crazy stuff.’ And yet, as he admitted under oath, Fox news hosts endorsed those conspiracies and he let it happen, even though he could have done more to step in and stop it.
“Instead of putting the Big Lie under scrutiny—Fox put it in prime time.
“And when reporters with the network tried to be accurate, tried to tell the truth, tried to set straight the lies their own network was spreading—they were reprimanded.
“Carlson, who told his colleagues Powell was lying, called for a Fox reporter to be fired for fact checking a tweet about the Dominion conspiracy.
“Shah, the Senior Vice President who said Powell was full of it, labeled an anchor a ‘brand threat’ for cutting away from an inaccurate Trump White House Press conference.
“Another reporter was scolded for fact-checking the Powell-Giuliani press conference, which leaders at Fox acknowledged was rife with dangerous conspiracies.
“Let’s be clear: this was the number one cable news outlet in America stifling the truth—this is so dangerous and we cannot—we absolutely cannot accept this.
“And Mr. President, let’s not forget the nature of these lies. These weren’t just small white lies or debatable points—these were wild, sprawling conspiracies, which were repeatedly debunked—including by Fox’s own fact checkers—and which were actually designed to disrupt the peaceful transition of power, designed to undermine the cornerstone of our democracy: the public’s faith in our free and fair elections.
“And they did.
“Mr. President, on January 6th, a violent mob—spurred by the lies Fox spread—stormed the capitol.
“And now, as I detailed earlier, Fox hosts are lying about that. Fox News is discoloring our past when we should be learning from it—when we should be learning from it.
“Mr. President, it’s important to consider the scope of these lies as well. This wasn’t one anchor saying something dubious and network executives looking the other way. Fox engaged in a top-down, deliberate, and coordinated effort to push out lies to its viewers. We cannot ignore that.
“Tucker Carlson can selectively edit as much footage as he wants—but I refuse to let him succeed in rewriting history, and lying to the American people about the January 6th insurrection.
“America has already seen what Tucker Carlson failed to show. Windows being smashed in. Officers being pushed and beaten and battered and pepper sprayed. The floor of the House and Senate overrun by white supremacists in tactical gear. A gallows on the hill. A mob chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence.’
“Mr. President, I was here, with one locked door between me and the violent mob shouting ‘kill the infidels.’
“And when the dust settled, I walked with my colleagues through the halls littered with broken glass, the offices that had been ransacked, and I stood here with my colleagues to cast the vote the insurrectionists stormed the building to stop.
“I will never forget that. Who could?
“And I will never let our country forget it either, despite what Fox News has done—and is doing—to try and rewrite this chapter of our nation’s history.
“This is not how legitimate news organizations behave.
“How are viewers supposed to trust them? How am I supposed to trust they will represent my positions fairly?
“Now, there are reporters at Fox who are committed to the basic principles of objective journalism and the truth, and I respect them. And many reporters at local Fox affiliates are doing their best to report the honest truth to viewers in my home state of Washington and around the country.
“But even if I trust them to try and work in good faith—how do I trust they won’t get overruled by the same executives who oversaw this election disinformation operation?
“So M. President, I think it’s important to say—it’s also worth noting the lies about the election and insurrection may be the most egregious and dangerous examples right now, but there are many other ways the dishonesty at Fox News is poisoning the debate for important conversations and debate.
“How are we supposed to debate climate change when half the conversation is fact-free denialism?
“How are we supposed to discuss public health when deadly vaccine misinformation is given one of the world’s biggest megaphones?
“So, here’s the honest truth: public figures and other media outlets need to grapple with this: Tucker Carlson is determined to make sure Fox ‘News’ is not ‘News’ at all. Fox is a political vehicle for Rupert Murdoch and his right-wing causes. It is a political entity that will gladly push disinformation and lies if it means profits or political gain. Let’s just call it what it is.
“So until Fox does a complete one-eighty to fix this, until Tucker Carlson apologizes and issues a comprehensive correction, until Mr. Murdoch and his executives stop with the lies and election conspiracy theories—and by the way, they’ll need to give us a real reason if we want to believe them—until that happens we should not pretend that Murdoch and Carlson are going to allow Fox News to be news at all.
“I certainly won’t.
“And I don’t say this lightly, but I encourage my colleagues to do the same.
“M. President, the essence of our democracy is at stake.
“Because, what I was reminded on January 6th is that democracy doesn’t happen just because we have it. Our democracy is only as strong as our commitment to it. We have to work for it. We have to make sure that it remains with us.
“And that is why I am out here on this floor today. Because, Mr. President, I will fight for our democracy.”