Ex-Fox News reporter accuses network of ‘purging’ anti-Trump staff after Jan 6

Fox News reporter who was present in the Capitol on January 6 says he raised multiple complaints about the network’s handling of coverage that day

Ariana Baio
Tuesday 14 November 2023 17:55 GMT
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A former Fox News reporter and producer is accusing his former employer of terminating him and other staff for speaking out against the network’s reporting of January 6 and the 2020 election – claiming it was based on discrimination.

Jason Donner, who worked at Fox News Network on Capitol Hill from 2010 to 2022, said he and “20 journalists” were retaliated against and laid off after they pushed back on reporting that favoured Mr Trump and downplayed the severity of January 6.

“To win back viewership and pledge its loyalty to President Trump, Fox’s corporate leadership purged the news division and those reporters who spoke out against claims of election fraud, such as [Chris Stirewalt],” the lawsuit alleges.

The allegations mimic similar themes of retaliation and poor treatment as displayed in evidence from Dominion Voting System’s lawsuit against Fox News as well as other lawsuits from former employees of the network.

Mr Donner, who says he “did not share many of the views expressed by Fox News’ Opinion page or the evening hour television commentators” in the years he worked at the company, noted a sudden shift in management’s attitude toward him after he raised issues with skewed reporting.

This included being reprimanded for tweeting fact-based information about Rudy Giuliani’s false claims of voter fraud and angering management when he fact-checked a Congressional member’s conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 vaccines.

Mr Donner claims he was retaliated against after raising complaints regarding the network’s coverage of the January 6 riots – which Mr Donner was present for in the Capitol.

Fox News downplayed the severity of violence on the day of the attack, despite Mr Donner calling the control room to report tear gas, gunshots and rioters storming the building. The network also aired Tucker Carlson’s conspiracy theory documentary Patriot Purge which painted the day as a peaceful protest and “false flag”.

Mr Donner said he “struggled to come to work every day” due to the lack of support from his employer.

Then in September 2022, the network fired Mr Donner, claiming he was “late to work” and “did not show up for work” – a reference to two days prior when Mr Donner called out sick due to side effects from his Covid-19 vaccine.

He claims this was a “pretextual firing” based on his political views and refusal to report false information.

“Ultimately, Fox News wanted to purge the news division of any staff that would not get in line with the directive to only report information that appease the Trump supporters and former President Trump,” the lawsuit alleges.

The Independent has reached out to Fox News for comment.

Now, he’s seeking compensatory and punitive damages in a lawsuit he initially filed in September in Washington DC’s Superior Court. The suit was moved to federal court on Monday.

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