Former Fox News Reporter, Jason Donner, says that he was targeted and terminated for opposing false claims related to the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Donner was part of a group of employees that were terminated due to their refusal to exclusively report information that would appease former President Donald Trump. The former reporter filed a lawsuit in Washington, D.C. Superior Court on September 27, accusing Fox News Network of discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation, and violation of the District of Columbia’s Human Rights Act. Donner was terminated in September 2022 after being employed for more than a decade at the network.
Donner states in the lawsuit that he often disagreed politically with other reporters from the network, but it didn’t affect their professional relationship. However, once former President Donald Trump started pushing baseless claims regarding the loss of his reelection due to voter fraud, Donner began to feel pressured to report these claims on the network. He was reprimanded for a series of tweets that were posted on his personal twitter account debunking the election fraud claims with facts about the situation. His boss would tell him to not tweet his opinions.
On January 6, 2021, Jason Donner had been stationed inside the Capitol. As soon the rioters began to break into the building, Fox News was reporting that these rioters were “peaceful.” Donner called the network’s control room and said: “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 fucking shit on our air ever again because you’re gonna get us all killed.” He brought these issues to the attention of his superiors along with concerns about the platform that was being given to anti-vaccine politicians, yet Fox News continuously aired content that involved ridiculous claims of what occurred on January 6. “Patriot Purge”, a three-part documentary hosted by Tucker Carlson, aired in which it is suggested that the riot was planned by the former President’s opponents to discredit his supporters.
In early 2022, Donner was accused of creating a toxic and hostile workplace environment, but was not given any details about the actions that caused this. The lawsuit states, “Fox News’ management was pushing a far right-wing agenda in the new division, and Donner would not comply with their demands to inaccurately report on the election and former President Trump.” The network began to target him for complaining about the false reporting related to the 2020 election and the January 6th insurrection.
Fox states that Donner was terminated in September 2022 for alleged excessive tardiness. He had called in sick over a reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine, but he claims that the network had created an excuse to let him go.
Fox News Network has faced other lawsuits this year including two from Dominion Voting Systems due to the continuous promotion of the false conspiracy theories about the validity of its voting machines. In addition to that, they settled a lawsuit with another former producer, Abby Grossberg, who accused them of creating a discriminatory workplace and coercing her into presenting a misleading testimony in the Dominion suit.