Malice Toward All?

Tucker Carlson. (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images)

Actual malice is Fox’s only hope.” 

Legal scholar Jeff Kosseff wasn’t offering Fox News business advice when he said that—he was engaged in legal analysis. But the bosses over at Fox News might as well translate that sentence into Latin and carve it above the doors at 1211 Avenue of the Americas. Actual malice is all they’ve got these days. 

Kosseff was referring to a remarkable development in the defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News, which broadcast all sorts of false, defamatory, irresponsible, and positively loopy claims about Dominion in the wake of Donald Trump’s loss to former vice president and full-time human jack-o’-lantern Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

The case would have made the late Tom Wolfe throw away his fountain pen and declare satire a thing of the past. Beyond the imbecilic stories about Venezuelan hackers and the predictable George Soros stuff, Fox News hosts such as Maria Bartiromo sat there nodding like well-dosed junkies while Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell put forward a series of fantastical claims that were based in part—this is the part you cannot make up—on an anonymous email from a source who at times claimed to be a ghost and at other times said she received the information in dreams and visions. “I was internally decapitated, and yet, I live,” the ghost said. Not all of the ghost’s stories made it on the air: The same source apparently claimed that the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia had been killed during a human-hunting expedition organized by the Bohemian Club and that Roger Ailes spent the 2020 election season plotting against the president in spite of his being inconveniently dead since 2017. 

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