“Many of the highest-ranking Fox people have admitted under oath that they never believed the Dominion lies,” he said, naming both Ms. Cooper and Mr. Carlson.
Mr. Shackelford described how Mr. Carlson had “tried to squirm out of it at his deposition” when asked about what he really believed.
Mr. Shackelford started to elaborate about what Mr. Carlson had said privately, telling the judge about the existence of text messages the host had sent in November and December of 2020. But the judge, Eric M. Davis, cut him off, leaving the specific contents of those texts unknown.
A spokeswoman for Fox News had no immediate comment.
Another previously unknown detail emerged on Wednesday about what was going on inside the Fox universe in those frantic weeks after the election. A second lawyer representing Dominion, Justin Nelson, told Judge Davis about evidence obtained by Dominion showing that an employee of the Fox Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, had tried to intervene with the White House to stop Ms. Powell. According to Mr. Nelson, that employee called the fraud claims “outlandish” and pressed Mr. Trump’s staff to get rid of Ms. Powell, who was advising the president on filing legal challenges to the results.
Mr. Nelson said that evidence cut straight to the heart of whether the Fox Corporation, which is controlled by Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, was also liable for defamation. Judge Davis ruled in June that Dominion could sue the larger, highly profitable corporation, which includes the Fox network on basic television and a lucrative sports broadcasting division.
A spokesman for the Fox Corporation had no immediate comment.
Over the last several months, Dominion has been combing through mountains of private email and text messages from people at every level of Fox News and the Fox Corporation — hosts like Mr. Hannity, senior executives and midlevel producers. A lawyer for Fox, Dan K. Webb, said on Wednesday that the company had produced more than 52,000 documents for Dominion, with more to come.
During the hearing, the judge was asked to rule on several issues. One was whether a second voting company that is suing Fox for defamation, Smartmatic, could be given access to the documents Dominion had obtained for its case. Judge Davis ruled in Fox’s favor, denying Smartmatic’s motion.