While Fox News host Sean Hannity amplified claims about the 2020 election being rife with fraud, privately, it seems, he knew the allegations were bogus.
Testifying under oath as part of a deposition in a case brought by voting equipment company Dominion Voting Systems, Hannity said, “I did not believe it for one second,” when asked about the claims of fraud, which continue to be made by former President Donald Trump, despite any evidence to support them.
Hannity reportedly wasn’t the only Fox News personality not to believe the false claims about the election. “Many of the highest-ranking Fox people have admitted under oath that they never believed the Dominion lies,” Dominion lawyer Stephen Shackelford told The New York Times, specifically naming Tucker Carlson and Meade Cooper, who oversees prime-time programming for the network.
Dominion found itself the target of conspiracies of widespread election fraud and other wrongdoing in the wake of the November 2020 presidential election, eventually suing several of Trump’s closest allies, including Fox News, for repeating lies about them.
Among those statements were unfounded allegations that Dominion manipulated vote totals and had ties to the regime of late Venezuelan authoritarian Hugo Chavez. The company was founded in Toronto and is now based in Denver.
In March 2021, Dominion sued Fox News Media in Delaware for $1.6 billion, according to a copy of the complaint shared with the press.
“Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process,” the complaint states.
Dominion CEO John Poulos said in an interview with 60 Minutes earlier this year that executives and hosts at the network were aware the voter fraud claims were false, but continued to promote them anyway.
“We told them. We told them in real time. Others told them. Government officials told them. Partisan government officials told ’em. People inside the Trump administration told them. Um, local election officials on both sides of the aisle told ’em. This is not a matter of not knowing the truth. They knew the truth,” Poulos said.
Hannity has been a staunch defender and close confidant of Trump in recent years. He has also tried to shift blame for the Jan. 6 Capitol riots from the former president, even while condemning the violence during his broadcast.
“All of today’s perpetrators must be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Hannity said on the air on Jan. 6, 2021. “But every good and decent American, we know, will and must condemn what happened at the Capitol, and moving forward, we have to do a dramatically better job protecting the innocent men and women who work there.”
The House of Representatives committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack made public text messages Hannity sent to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in which he spoke about the Jan. 6 rally — which was known as “Stop the Steal” and predicated on the notion that the election had been stolen from Trump — and election integrity in general.
“We can’t lose the entire WH counsels office. I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told. After the 6 th. [sic] He should announce will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity. Go to Fl and watch Joe mess up daily. Stay engaged. When he speaks people will listen,” Hannity wrote on Dec. 31, 2020, according to a letter from the committee.