A woman who says the wind talks to her and put forth claims of election fraud in the 2020 presidential race that she admitted were "pretty wackadoodle" turns out to be a key source of allegations that Fox News presented, night after night, to millions of viewers late that fall.
Joe Biden's victory caused Fox News personalities to all but melt down on the air. Off the air, a sense of crisis pervaded the private conversations of the network's executives and stars. Viewers who supported then-President Donald Trump abandoned Fox in droves after its Election Night team became the first in the nation to project that Biden would win the pivotal state of Arizona.
Desperate to win back the Trump supporters, Fox News and the Fox Business Network turned at least a dozen times to a pro-Trump attorney named Sidney Powell who, when pressed for evidence, forwarded a memo entitled "Election Fraud Info" to Fox anchor Maria Bartiromo. Bartiromo hosted Powell on her Fox News show the day after receiving it.
The author of the memo in which Powell and Bartiromo put so much stock offered detailed and utterly false claims of how Dominion Voting Systems helped rig the election for Biden. She also shared a bit about herself, writing that she gains insights from experiencing something "like time-travel in a semi-conscious state."
The existence of the memo, its enigmatic author, and her role in Fox's broadcasts surfaced in a devastating 178-page legal brief filed by Dominion Voting Systems and made public last week by a Delaware court. The election-tech company has sued Fox News for $1.6 billion for defamation over the airing of false claims that it engaged in election fraud.
Powell's source also volunteered that the wind tells her that she's a ghost, though she doesn't believe it.
The woman, who is not named in the legal brief, wrote that she knew the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had been killed during a week-long human hunting expedition at an elite social club. (Scalia, a favorite of many Fox News hosts, died in 2016 of a heart attack, according to local officials in Texas, where he died.)
And the woman asserted that the late Fox News chairman Roger Ailes and Fox Corporation founder Rupert Murdoch "secretly huddle most days to determine how best to portray Mr. Trump as badly as possible." By the time the woman wrote her memo, Ailes had been dead for more than three years.
"Who am I? And how do I know all of this?... I've had the strangest dreams since I was a little girl," the woman wrote in the email shared by Powell with Bartiromo and Dobbs. "I was internally decapitated, and yet, I live."
This all appeared in the same memo that claimed Dominion's software flipped votes from Trump to Biden, and tied the election company to a conspiracy involving Democrats Nancy Pelosi, then the House speaker, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
"The full force of the email's lunacy comes across by reading it in its entirety," Dominion's legal brief states. "Spurred by the November 8 Bartiromo broadcast," the election tech company's legal team wrote, "the wild Dominion allegations entered the mainstream." Dominion began sending journalists and executives at the network regular messages attempting to set the record straight - and putting the network on notice, according to the filing.
David Clark, then the senior executive over Fox's weekend shows, later said under oath to Dominion's lawyers that he "would not have allowed that claim to be aired," had he known this memo was the sole foundation of the "crazy" theories.
Dominion Voting System's lawyers would not comment further to NPR. Fox News and parent company Fox Corp. declined to comment on the email. More broadly, Fox has accused Dominion of mischaracterizing the record and cherry-picked quotes without the proper context.
Fox hosts and executives ridiculed Sidney Powell and her claims, while giving them a platform
Fox News stars and executives privately reviled their newsroom colleagues who told viewers that such claims were baseless, because such fact-checks alienated viewers.
Yet in some of the same conversations, the hosts and executives ridiculed Powell and her election-fraud claims. Their private communications and sworn testimony were also part of Dominion's filings.