Smartmatic: Fox News Election Lies Intentional
Voting machine company is suing for $2.7 billion for the lies that fueled insurrection
After the 2020 election, right-wing “news” stations like Fox News Channel helped to push the big lie that the election was stolen from Trump. This lie led to thousands storming the US Capitol in an attempt to stop the Electoral Votes from being counted and led to the deaths of 5 people on January 6th and the suicides of two other Capitol police officers in the days that followed.
For weeks Fox News and Fox Business hosts pushed the big lie that election technology companies Smartmatic and Dominion Voting somehow stole the election from Trump. Some of the false claims included that the companies changed vote totals to favor Joe Biden and that the companies were linked to foreign countries like Venezuela. Both Smartmatic and Dominion have since filed a number of lawsuits against the main players spreading the claims including Fox Corporation and three current and former Fox hosts — Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro, and Lou Dobbs.
In legal documents filed by Fox’s attorney, they sought to dismiss the Smartmatic lawsuit claiming that they had covered the election fairly and that the hosts were just playing along with what their guests were saying when the guests spread lies about the two companies. Smartmatic has now responded to Fox’s attempt to get the lawsuit thrown out. “The First Amendment does not provide the Fox defendants a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Smartmatic’s lawyer, J. Erik Connolly, wrote in a brief filed in New York State Supreme Court. “The Fox defendants do not get a do-over with their reporting now that they have been sued.”
The 120-page brief goes on to argue that Fox’s attempt to get out of the lawsuit is just wishful thinking. “The Fox defendants wedded themselves to (Rudy) Giuliani and (Sidney) Powell during their programs,” the brief said. “They cannot distance themselves now.” They also said that Fox’s claims are an “attempt to cloak themselves in the First Amendment” in a situation where the “cloak does not fit,” Smartmatic argued in this week’s filing. In an interview with CNN, Smartmatic’s lawyer Erik Connolly said that the company has a “straightforward case of defamation” against Fox and is trying to “hold Fox and the anchors responsible” for their coverage. Smartmatic is suing the company and the anchors for $2.7 billion.
While Fox attempts to claim that their coverage was fair, video clips that are still available on the Fox News website, show a different story. Below is one clip where Lou Dobbs interviews Sidney Powell and alleges that Smartmatic is aligned with foreign governments.
In another clip from Maria Bartiromo’s show on Fox News, you can see Giuliani pushing the false claim that Dominion and Smartmatic were foreign companies that stole the election. Not only did Fox allow Giuliani to spew the lies about the company uninterrupted, but Bartiromo then laid out the case for her viewers saying that the company does work in Caracas Venezuela, and then listing the swing states using the software and alleged that vote counting was stopped on Election night in some important swing states so that Smartmatic could use a backdoor to change votes. This seems like more than just sitting there and listening to whatever lies Giuliani was spewing.
Fox is also facing a $1.6 billion lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems. The company which has contracts with counties around the country to provide voting machines sued the network for spreading false claims that their machines and the company were involved in voter fraud during the 2020 election. "Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process," according to the lawsuit filed in Delaware. "If this case does not rise to the level of defamation by a broadcaster, then nothing does. Fox endorsed, repeated, and broadcast a series of verifiably false yet devastating lies about Dominion."
Dominion has filed similar lawsuits against MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Trump lawyer Sidney Powell. Both Powell and Giuliani led the legal effort to overturn the election and made multiple appearances on Fox News programs. Following the two lawsuits, Fox announced that they were pulling Dobb’s show from Fox Business. The show was singled out in the Dominion case which said Dobbs "repeatedly broadcast the lie that Dominion stole the election."
In Dominion’s lawsuit, they cited how the network "recklessly disregarded the truth" and caused some of their viewers to take part in the insurrection at the US Capitol as a result. The lawsuit highlighted the actions of one Fox Business viewer, Eric Gavelek Munchel, who wore dark military-style fatigues and carried flex cuffs into the Capitol on January 6th. "Munchel had previously posted a photograph of himself with a shotgun, an American flag, and the Fox Business Channel on his television in the background," the lawsuit says, including that image in the court document.
"The lies did not simply harm Dominion," the company's lawsuit says. "They harmed democracy. They harmed the idea of credible elections. They harmed a once-unshakeable faith in democratic and peaceful transfers of power."
This isn’t the first time Fox News has been sued over their anchors' conduct. In 2020, Fox was able to successfully beat back a slander lawsuit when they argued primetime host Tucker Carlson could not be taken literally in what he was saying. In the Judge's decision, she said that "Fox persuasively argues, that given Mr. Carlson's reputation, any reasonable viewer 'arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism about the statement he makes."
Following the events of January 6th and the threats that were made towards the lives of employees at Dominion Voting Systems, it is clear that at least some people take Fox and their hosts seriously.