Fox News has been hit with a massive $2.7 billion lawsuit filed against them by election technology company Smartmatic which alleges the network “decimated” their business by claiming that they stole the 2020 presidential election from former President Donald Trump.
According to the Washington Post, the lawsuit was filed in New York on Thursday:
“Smartmatic filed the nearly 300-page lawsuit against the network and its parent company, Fox Corp., in New York State Supreme Court on Thursday, after weeks of legal threats against the network.
“’Fox is responsible for this disinformation campaign, which has damaged democracy worldwide and irreparably harmed Smartmatic and other stakeholders who contribute to modern elections,’ Smartmatic chief executive Antonio Mugica said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Fox lied about the 2020 election and promoted false conspiracy theories that have been detrimental to Smartmatic’s bottom line:
“The company said it has identified ‘100 false statements and implications’ about Smartmatic and its services made on Fox’s programs. The lawsuit singles out Fox News and Fox Business Network hosts Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro, as well as two guests who repeatedly appeared on their shows in the weeks around the election: Trump-affiliated lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani.”
The motive for Fox’s alleged behavior? To lure back viewers it had been losing in recent months:
“The complaint claims that the network had been losing the faith of Trump’s political base and losing audience to smaller and more bombastic right-wing channels such as Newsmax and One America News. ‘Fox News needed a way to reclaim its favored status with President Trump and his followers.'”
Indeed, Fox has seen its ratings tank since the election, including among its popular primetime lineup of hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham. Many Trump voters have gravitated to more strident sources of information on other networks and from online platforms that can more efficiently cater to carefully targeted segments of the viewing public.
In response to the lawsuit, Fox released a statement saying it is “committed to providing the full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear opinion. We are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court.”
Legal experts say Fox should be worried, with CNN’s Laura Coates remarking:
“When you are making statements that are knowingly false, and you make them with malice, and you actually tarnish reputations and it has a financial consequence — that’s why you have defamation lawsuits in the first place.”
University of Georgia media law professor Jonathan Peters concurred, saying he believes the “smart money” is on the election tech company:
Libel law makes it difficult to prevail where the plaintiff is a public figure and/or where the speech involved a matter of public concern. In various ways, these will be key issues in litigation. I’d say, now, the smart money is on Dominion, Smartmatic. https://t.co/BjFTvfI5VA
— Jonathan Peters (@jonathanwpeters) February 5, 2021
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