- Rupert Murdoch said in a January 2021 email to Paul Ryan that Sean Hannity was “disgusted” by Trump.
- Murdoch added in his email that Hannity was “scared to lose viewers” despite his distaste for Trump.
- Murdoch said to Ryan that Hannity also needed a “wake-up call” after the Capitol riot.
Rupert Murdoch said in an email that Fox News host Sean Hannity was, in private, “disgusted” by then-President Donald Trump, but was more concerned about keeping viewership up.
Segments of emails Murdoch sent in 2021 were published on Monday in a court filing from Dominion Voting Systems. One of these exchanges was between Murdoch, his son Lachlan Murdoch, the CEO of Fox Corporation, and Paul Ryan, a board member at Fox Corporation, dated January 12, 2021 — six days after the Capitol riot.
In the email exchange, Ryan, a one-time Republican House speaker, told both Murdochs that after the 2020 election, “some high percentage of Americans” thought the election was stolen from Trump because of the right-wing media.
“Thanks Paul. Wake-up call for Hannity, who has been privately disgusted by Trump for weeks, but was scared to lose viewers,” Rupert Murdoch wrote in response to Ryan. Hannity anchors one of the most-watched shows on Fox News, just behind “The Five” and “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
In response, Ryan told Murdoch he thought Fox and its hosts should try to “put down the echoes of falsehood from our side.”
“I truly hope our contributors, along with Tucker, Laura, and Sean get that and execute,” Ryan said, likely referencing Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Hannity.
Murdoch responded that he thought “everyone” was “disgusted” with the falsehoods surrounding voter fraud — particularly after the January 6 riot, per Dominion’s court filing.
Dominion’s court filings have aired private messages from Fox hosts
Dominion Voting Systems is alleging that Fox defamed it by pushing false claims about the company’s role in the 2020 election. Dominion is seeking $1.6 billion in damages.
Murdoch separately conceded in his deposition that Fox News hosts did push falsehoods about the 2020 election — but at the same time denied that Fox Corporation endorsed these false claims.
Dominion in its court filings has argued, citing exhibits and depositions, that Fox News hosts like Hannity privately disagreed with pro-Trump election conspiracy theorists, but gave them a platform on the channel anyway. Hannity, for one, called the Trump-allied lawyer Rudy Giuliani an “insane person” in a November 2020 text message after Giuliani started pushing baseless voter fraud theories, a Dominion filing in February showed.
Hannity’s panic behind the scenes in the run-up to and on the day of the Capitol riot is also well-documented. The House panel investigating the Capitol riot has made public a series of panicked text messages from Hannity. The texts detailed how “worried” Hannity was about what could happen on January 6, 2021, and how he tried to get Trump to stop the violence at the Capitol as it happened.
A Fox spokesperson responding to Insider’s queries about Hannity and Ryan accused Dominion of trying to “publicly smear” the company just for reporting the news.
A spokesman for Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch told Insider they had no further response beyond Fox’s statement.
A representative at Trump’s post-presidential press office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.