Newly released court documents reveal that Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire owner of Fox News, acknowledged under oath that several Fox News hosts endorsed Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
The mogul made the admission during a deposition in the $1.6bn defamation lawsuit brought against the network by the voting machine company Dominion Voting Systems, which has accused Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corporation, of maligning its reputation. In his deposition, Murdoch said the hosts Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro “endorsed” the false narrative promoted by Trump.
“I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it in hindsight,” Murdoch said in the deposition, the New York Times reported on Monday.
In previous court filings, attorneys for Dominion have argued that Fox News hosts ridiculed Trump’s false claims of a “stolen election” while promoting those lies on television. While Hannity pushed that narrative on his primetime show, he allegedly wrote that Trump was “acting like an insane person”.
Even Murdoch dismissed Trump’s claims, describing the former president’s obsession with proving the election was stolen as “terrible stuff damaging everybody”.
Why is this case so significant? Dominion’s defamation case is being described as a “landmark”. A Harvard law professor told the Guardian he had “never seen a defamation case with such overwhelming proof that the defendant admitted in writing that it was making up fake information in order to increase its viewership and its revenues”.
Settler rampage in the West Bank
Hundreds of Israeli settlers went on a violent rampage in the northern West Bank on Sunday night, setting alight dozens of cars and homes after two settlers were killed by a Palestinian gunman. One person was killed in the violence and more than 350 injured.
Incidents of settler violence across the West Bank happen every day, and have increased steadily over the past few years: many of the 700,000 or so Israelis living in the territory and East Jerusalem are motivated by what they see as a religious mission to restore the historical land of Israel to the Jewish people. Settlement communities are viewed as illegal under international law, and one of the biggest obstacles to peace.
However, no one the Guardian reporter Bethan McKernan spoke to in the Huwara area for her dispatch on Monday could recall such an intense and widespread episode, which Palestinians and Israelis fear could lead to more attacks on both sides and a return to full-blown conflict.
In an article published on Monday, a prominent rightwing Israeli commentator, appalled by the reported inaction of the IDF, called the events “Kristallnacht in Huwara”.
What sparked the attack? Sunday’s riot was triggered by the murders of Hillel Yaniv, 22, and Yagel Yaniv, 20, from the nearby settlement of Har Bracha. Route 60, the Israeli road running north to south through the middle of the territory, cuts through the middle of Huwara, making the village a well-known flashpoint.
US battered by tornadoes, wind and snow as more storms expected
More than 304,000 US homes and businesses were still without power yesterday afternoon, after a weekend of wild winter weather that wreaked havoc from coast to coast – and the storms are not done yet. Millions of people across the country are bracing for more heavy snow and strong winds as the threat of devastating tornadoes lingers through the midwest.
“A busy weather pattern is expected to continue midweek with impacts throughout many regions of the country,” the National Weather Service said in a forecast on Monday, noting the continuation of frosty conditions and furious gusts. Parts of California could experience several feet of snow in the coming days, with 60mph winds.
Over the weekend, California was doused in snow and ice, leaving even low-lying areas dusted in white, to the delight and alarm of residents accustomed to more balmy conditions.
Deluges of rain battered the sodden state, causing cascades of water and rockslides down saturated hillsides, and flooding streets, while the blustery storm toppled trees and power lines, leaving thousands of Californians without heat as temperatures plummeted. The rare blast of wintry weather prompted blizzard warnings for the first time in the mountainous areas of San Diego county and the second time in Los Angeles county.
What else has happened? At least 12 people were injured in Oklahoma as seven tornadoes tore through the state on Sunday night, and one person was confirmed dead. Emergency crews are surveying the damage as risks remain for more tornadoes across the Ohio valley through the evening.
In other news …
The last survivor of three critically endangered Asiatic cheetah cubs born in captivity in Iran has died in hospital from kidney failure. Pirouz, who wasbrought to the Central veterinary hospitalwith kidney failure last Thursday, died after undergoing dialysis, the official IRNA news agency said.
Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, signed a bill yesterday that gave him control of Walt Disney World’s self-governing district, punishing the company over its opposition to “don’t say gay” a state law that restricts sexual orientation and gender identity discussions in schools.
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has urged government officials to engineer a “fundamental transformation” in agricultural production, state media reports, amid fears the country’s food shortage is worsening. The report does not elaborate on what measures North Korea would take.
Texas prisoners who joined a hunger strike in protest against the state’s widespread use of prolonged solitary confinement have described the damage to inmates’ mental and physical health inflicted by a system they equate with torture.
The bestselling self-help author Marianne Williamson, who brought quirky spiritualism to the 2020 presidential race, has announced she is running for the White House again, becoming the first major Democrat to challenge Joe Biden for his party’s nomination in 2024.
Don’t miss this: My body resists veganism. What’s the most ethical alternative?
Suppose a person is concerned about the ethical issues around food and farming, especially animal welfare but for whatever reason finds a wholly plant-based diet does not work for them, writes Peter Godfrey-Smith. What is the most defensible step away from veganism – the best compromise to make, if it is a compromise at all? These reflections are intended for people right now, given a person’s economic situation and what is available to them. The future will probably be different, including not just advances in plant-based foods but, if the technology works out, a lot of cultured or lab-grown meat. The fact that, at some time in the future, our food choices will look very different does not change the fact that we do have these choices now.
Climate check: Confusion surrounds China’s energy policies as GDP and climate goals clash
China’s energy policies are fast creating a type of “emissions ambiguity”, as the twin goals of boosting GDP growth and reducing carbon emissions come into conflict, writes Peter Hannam. The uncertainty is whether and when the world’s biggest carbon emitter will start to curb greenhouse gas pollution. The release of the country’s annual statistics communique today did not clear things up. As Lauri Myllyvirta, an analyst at Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, noted this month, China’s carbon emissions may have risen 1% or fallen by that amount in 2022. A crude conversion of the 3% GDP growth reported by China and its 0.8% reduction in the carbon intensity of economic activity – as stated in the communique – indicates emissions may have risen 2.2% last year.
Last Thing: Mexican president posts photo of what he claims is a Maya elf
Mexico’s president posted a photo on his social media accounts on Saturday showing what he said appeared to be a mythological woodland spirit similar to an elf. Andrés Manuel López Obrador did not seem to be joking when he uploaded the image of an alux, a mischievous woodland spirit in Maya folklore. López Obrador wrote that the picture “was taken three days ago by an engineer, it appears to be an alux”, adding: “Everything is mystical”.
The nighttime photo shows a tree with a branch forming what looks like a halo of hair, and what may be stars forming the figure’s eyes. According to traditional Maya belief, aluxes are small, mischievous creatures that inhabit forests and fields and are prone to playing tricks on people.
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