Fox Corporation chief legal and policy officer Viet Dinh said he didn’t believe the allegations of fraud in the 2020 presidential election that were being made in court and the media, but he also didn’t want to dismiss them outright as long as the window remained open for objections to be litigated and before electors were certified.
“I did not believe, and I was skeptical of that allegation, but during the period immediately following the election until the certification of the electors, I allow[ed] room for … the allegations to be shown,” Dinh said in a deposition he gave as part of Dominion Voting System’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox. A transcript of the deposition was made public this week.
Dinh said he had never been asked to step in on a decision that involved editorial judgment, and because of that, he couldn’t say whether he even had the authority to stop something that had been decided at the editorial level.
“I’ve never done it,” said Dinh, who joined Fox in 2018. “I don't know the limits of my authority unless there is actually a concrete example.”
Despite not believing the allegations, he said, he gave the benefit of the doubt to Trump attorney Sidney Powell, pictured above, who led legal efforts to challenge the election outcome and who alleged irregularities in Dominion’s voting machines.
“Sidney Powell is a serious and capable lawyer and … she is an officer of the court,” said Dinh, a former assistant attorney general and at one time head of his own law firm. “So anything she filed in court I would take seriously.”
He admitted Powell was hurting her standing by continuing to say she had evidence of fraud without revealing that evidence even as she was coming up empty in her lawsuits and the clock was winding down on legislatures certifying the electors for their states.
“Her credibility decreased, in my mind,” he said. “But … whether or not a lawyer chooses to show her evidence to journalists, or a particular journalist, is a tactical/legal decision that I completely understand.”
Dinh said he thought it should be considered a positive that Fox personality Tucker Carlson, when he had Powell on his show in mid-December 2020, pushed back against her claims by saying she had yet to provide any evidence. That episode, he said, generated criticism against Carlson from Fox viewers but it also could be taken as him trying to get to the facts of the case.
“I think and I hope it also made a lot of viewers happy that he demanded evidence from Ms. Powell,” he said.
Dinh agreed Lou Dobbs, another Fox personality, exercised poor editorial judgment when he retweeted an allegation that Dominion and another company, Smartmatic, had controllers embedded in their machines that could change votes. By not citing a source, Dinh acknowledged, Dobbs left the door open for people to assume he originated the content, even though he didn’t and in fact he said a few weeks later that he had yet to see any evidence supporting the allegations.
“He should have explained” he was not the source of the allegation, Dinh said.
But, Dinh added, it’s not his role as CLO to weigh in on editorial matters like that. “I don’t have a basis to challenge it,” he said. “I don’t watch Lou Dobbs. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Lou Dobbs.”
Dinh said he mainly gets his news from The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, which he called credible news sources, and while he keeps Fox News on in his office, he keeps the sound off unless he needs to pay attention to something. He also listens to Fox on the radio on his drive home, but that’s the extent to which he consumes Fox programming. “I generally do not watch the shows that are at issue in this complaint,” he said.
Once all of the lawsuits had run their course and the states had chosen their electors, closing off all legal options for challenging the results, he said, he was firm in his mind that the election results were sound and that he had no reason to believe the allegations that had been made.
“Because game is over, right?” He said. “December 15th is the cutoff date for the legislatures to certify [their] electors, and also because … all of the litigation related to the election had been dismissed.”
Despite that, he said, editorial decisions to keep putting Powell on the air, where she continued to allege she had evidence of fraud, were not his to make.
“I don’t make the editorial decisions as to what is newsworthy,” he said.