A former Fox News reporter has sued the conservative network, accusing it of discrimination and retaliation for firing him after he spoke out against “false coverage” of the 2020 U.S. election and the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, according to court filings.
Jason Donner, who worked for Fox News as a reporter and producer for 12 years, claimed in the lawsuit that he had been targeted after continually raising concerns with his managers about false statements allowed on the air. The lawsuit was filed in Superior Court of the District of Columbia on Sept. 27 and transferred to U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday.
Mr. Donner had covered Capitol Hill for Fox News since 2018. He said in the complaint that as the network tried to appease its audience of President Donald J. Trump’s supporters by airing a false narrative of vote rigging in the 2020 presidential election, the work environment turned toxic for reporters trying to “report truthfully.”
According to the suit, Mr. Donner was working inside the Capitol on Jan. 6 when insurrectionists stormed through the doors. He was hiding with other reporters in news booths when he heard that Fox was reporting that the attack was “peaceful,” he said. Mr. Donner called the Fox News control room, he said in the complaint, and told it that tear gas was going off, rioters were storming the building and shots had been reported fired, and that false reports on the news were “gonna get us all killed.”
Mr. Donner said he had complained to his bosses about Fox News’s “lack of support” in the aftermath of the riot, including the host Tucker Carlson’s false claims and conspiracy theories about the day, saying that “it was demoralizing that Fox News would allow Carlson to gaslight the country with false information.”
Mr. Donner said he called in sick to work on Sept. 26, 2022, and was fired two days later, with Fox giving him the explanation that he was “late for work and did not show up for work.”
Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Lawyers for Mr. Donner declined to comment. The lawsuit did not specify the amount of damages sought.
Fox is facing an avalanche of litigation over the false narratives it aired in its coverage of the 2020 election and the Capitol riot, including from shareholders and Ray Epps, a man it accused of being an undercover government agent at the Capitol.
In April, Fox paid $787.5 million to settle a defamation suit brought by Dominion Voting Systems over the false conspiracy theories it broadcast about voter fraud. A trove of internal company communications released in the Dominion case showed that many Fox executives and hosts did not believe the voter fraud accusations but aired them anyway.
Smartmatic, another voting technology company, has filed a similar defamation case, asking for $2.7 billion in damages.
In June, Fox News settled with a former producer, Abby Grossberg, for $12 million in a hostile-workplace lawsuit.