Fox News Producer Sues Network After Refusing to Support Trump
WASHINGTON — A former Fox News reporter says in a lawsuit moved to federal court this week that he was fired for questioning the television network’s reports that he said were designed to “appease” the Trump administration after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building.
Producer Jason Donner says he was terminated during a house cleaning of Fox News personnel who refused to support former President Donald Trump with their reports.
“As a result of Mr. Donner speaking out against the false news stories being published by Fox News and his political affiliation, Fox News discriminated against Mr. Donner and retaliated against him by firing him,” the lawsuit says.
In one example, Fox News reported during the insurrection that protesters inside the Capitol were “peaceful.”
When Donner — who took refuge inside a news booth in the building — heard the report, he called the Fox News control room to complain about the untruthfulness of it.
He told the control room staff, “I’m your Capitol Hill producer inside the Capitol where tear gas is going off on the second floor in the Ohio clock corridor, rioters are storming the building, reports of shots fired outside the House chamber. I don’t want to hear any of this [expletive] on our air ever again because you’re gonna get us all killed.”
In another conflict with Fox News managers, he contested the accuracy of a Tucker Carlson “Patriot Purge” segment that said Democrats were using the insurrection to debunk conservative Americans.
Fox News broadcasts generally reflect a conservative tendency that appeals to the kinds of viewers friendly toward Trump.
The lawsuit says Fox News supervisors were willing to slant the news to give their audience what they wanted to hear, regardless of employee complaints about sacrificing the truth.
“This toxic environment for Fox News’ reporters attempting to report truthfully reached its peak after the insurrection on the U.S.Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as Fox News’ desire to placate their viewers overwhelmed the need to report truthfully on the facts,” the lawsuit says.
Other employees who suffered a backlash included longtime Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera, who the lawsuit says “was suspended three times for ‘complaining about Tucker Carlson, when he had the outlandish theory that Jan. 6 was staged’” by government agents.
Donner said a Fox News manager used a sick day he claimed while recovering from a COVID-19 vaccination as a pretext for firing him in September 2022. He had worked for the network for 12 years.
Donner accuses the network of violating the D.C. Human Rights Act through retaliation and wrongful termination. He claims unspecified damages.
The lawsuit was filed Sept. 27 in D.C. Superior Court but removed to U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia because of issues of federal law it includes.
Donner’s lawsuit joins others against Fox News because of its reporting on the insurrection and Trump administration allegations of voter fraud.
The network paid a record $787.5 million lawsuit settlement this year to Dominion Voting Systems for repeating Trump’s false allegations that the company altered votes processed through its voting machines to help Joe Biden win the 2020 presidential election.
In June, Fox News paid former producer Abby Grossberg $12 million to settle her hostile-workplace lawsuit.
Other lawsuits are pending.