It would have been shocking had Fox News lied about the 2020 election being stolen from Donald Trump because the management and stars believed that nonsense. It would have been shocking had Fox known the truth but passed on lies in the belief that only Trump could save the country.
But the real reason it beat the drums for that lunacy -- at the price of destabilizing the country and nearly destroying the democracy -- is most shocking of all. It did it for the money.
Since America's beginning, patriots have been willing to give their lives for the country. But in a deposition, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of his conservative media empire, admitted that Fox hosts "endorsed" ludicrous and dangerous claims against Dominion Voting Systems' machines -- and acknowledged that they were "BS."
Why? "Not red or blue," he said. "It is green."
That was just one finding in Dominion's defamation suit against Fox. We learned that Tucker Carlson tried to get rid of a reporter who fact-checked the phony claims and tweeted her findings: "Please get her fired. Seriously... What the f---? ... The stock price is down."
Many a night, Carlson sat with knitted brows as he let the MyPillow guy, Mike Lindell, weave bizarre stories of election fraud unchallenged. MyPillow was then his biggest advertiser.
Fox was terrified that the audience it had inflamed with conspiracy theories would leave for even less respectable right-wing channels -- punishment for breaking the news that Joe Biden had won Arizona and thereby the election.
Carlson told to fellow host Laura Ingraham that Trump lawyer Sidney Powell was "lying" in an "insane" way. Ingraham responded that she was a "complete nut." Sean Hannity said in a deposition, "I didn't believe it for one second."
Carlson texted his producer that Trump was a "demonic force" who could try to destroy Fox if the network didn't get in line.
"It's remarkable how weak ratings make good journalists do bad things," Bill Sammon, a former Fox executive, said. Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro and Sean Hannity never really came off as journalists, good or bad. But Lou Dobbs was a very good business journalist, once upon a time. Can't fathom how he turned so soulless.
Trump, meanwhile, is pouring gas on the network that made him. He just posted on TruthSocial, "Why is Rupert Murdoch throwing his anchors under the table, which also happens to be killing his case and infuriating his viewers, who will again be leaving in droves -- they already are."
We know that had Dominion not launched its $1.6 billion suit against Fox, we might not appreciate how utterly cynical the network had been about its audience but more important, the health of the country. Free-speech protections are so solid that the hurt party must show "actual malice" to win a libel case. On that score, though, Dominion seems to have the goods.
You know, $1.6 billion is a lot of green, which, if Dominion's suit is successful, could be leaving Fox News' coffers. And that doesn't include possible punitive damages. I never thought I'd be rooting for a voting machine company to save our democracy, but here we are.
Be clear that what Fox is facing has nothing to do with the network's political bias. Though far more respectful of facts, MSNBC is biased on the other side.
What Fox did was inflame the mob with lies it knew were lies. This included the thugs who attacked the Capitol, killed police and threatened to hang the vice president. Its phony challenges to the sanctity of the electoral system came close to bringing the democracy down.
And the amazing part of this is they did it for the money.