"Holy s**t": Experts stunned after court filing reveals Murdoch passed confidential info to Kushner

Murdoch gave Trump's campaign "Fox confidential information about Biden's ads, along with debate strategy": filing

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published February 28, 2023 11:38AM (EST)

Rupert Murdoch and Jared Kushner (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Rupert Murdoch and Jared Kushner (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch passed confidential information to White House adviser Jared Kushner during the 2020 presidential campaign, according to a court filing in Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the company.

"During Trump's campaign, Rupert provided Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, with Fox confidential information about Biden's ads, along with debate strategy (providing Kushner a preview of Biden's ads before they were public)," the Dominion filing states. 

Murdoch and Kushner communicated during the 2020 campaign and on election night. Murdoch in his deposition recalled Kushner's outreach after the network called Arizona for President Joe Biden.

"My friend Jared Kushner called me saying, 'This is terrible,' and I could hear Trump's voice in the background shouting," he said, according to the filing. "And I said, 'Well, the numbers are the numbers.'"

Kushner also cited the exchange in his recent memoir.

"Sorry, Jared, there is nothing I can do," Kushner quoted Murdoch as saying. "The Fox News data authority says the numbers are ironclad — he says it won't be close."

Democratic strategist Sawyer Hackett called the revelation that Murdoch passed confidential information to Kushner a "bombshell."

"Holy s**t," tweeted Fred Wellman, the former executive director of the Lincoln Project, suggesting that the move may have run afoul of federal campaign finance laws surrounding "in-kind" contributions, or non-monetary campaign contributions.

"There are multiple crimes in this single paragraph," Wellman wrote. "Whomever placed those ads on Fox should sue immediately. The FEC must investigate this as illegal support to the Trump campaign. The DOJ must open an investigation into fraud and theft."

Former Obama aide Tommy Vietor, a Pod Save America co-host, agreed that Murdoch passing along info to Kushner amounted to a "pretty hefty in-kind campaign contribution."

"Did this get marked as an in-kind on Trump's FEC filings?" questioned Adam Smith, the vice president of the D.C.-based watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

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Dominion's divulgence is the second of its kind in recent weeks, adding to a flurry of allegations leveled against Fox News and top company executives and hosts for spreading bogus claims about the voting technology company's "flipping" votes from Trump to Biden. "Executives at all levels of Fox — both (Fox News Network) and (Fox Corporation) — knowingly opened Fox's airwaves to false conspiracy theories about Dominion," the filing read. 

Murdoch in his deposition acknowledged under oath that several Fox News media personalities actively "endorsed" Trump's big lie. "Some of our commentators were endorsing it," Murdoch said. "I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it, in hindsight." 

In a statement made to ABC News on Monday, Fox News harangued against Dominion's lawsuit, saying it "has always been more about what will generate headlines than what can withstand legal and factual scrutiny, as illustrated by them now being forced to slash their fanciful damages demand by more than half a billion dollars after their own expert debunked its implausible claims. Their summary judgment motion took an extreme, unsupported view of defamation law that would prevent journalists from basic reporting and their efforts to publicly smear FOX for covering and commenting on allegations by a sitting President of the United States should be recognized for what it is: a blatant violation of the First Amendment."

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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Aggregate Donald Trump Fox News Jared Kushner Politics Rupert Murdoch