On Sunday, Donald Trump spoke at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Texas. The former president played his greatest hits during the speech, including bragging about how well he did on a test that screens for dementia and unleashing a ruthless attack on wind turbines. But no Trump speech in 2021 would be complete without baseless accusations of voter fraud altering the results of the 2020 presidential election. This presented an issue for right-wing propaganda outlet Fox News, which was broadcasting the speech in full. Fox is currently facing defamation lawsuits from Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic for $1.6 billion and $2.7 billion respectively. The voting machine companies allege that Fox hosts have tarnished their reputations by repeating Trump campaign lies about votes being flipped to help Joe Biden. Eager to avoid paying out more money than is necessary, Fox had to get clever about how they chose to broadcast the former president’s speech when he started going off the rails about supposed voter fraud.
The second Trump broached the topic of the 2020 election, even when he wasn’t referencing voting machines specifically, Fox put up a disclaimer at the bottom of the screen. It read “the voting system companies have denied the various allegations made by President Trump and his counsel regarding the 2020 election.” It makes sense that Fox executives feel the need to put the disclaimer up, but if anything, the statement they chose was too weak. It should have disputed Trump’s bogus claims, maybe by saying something to the effect that there have been 60 lawsuits into election irregularities and all of them have gone nowhere. Maybe it could have referenced how the Trump Justice Department and a number of US intelligence agencies have disputed the ex-president’s claims. At any rate, the disclaimer is quite embarrassing for Trump and Fox as it suggests to the audience that they’ve been telling lies about the outcome of the 2020 race the entire time.
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