Fox News sued for $1.6bn over false election claims

Dominion Voting Systems filed the claim against the broadcaster

Louise Hall
Friday 26 March 2021 18:49
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Fox host Lou Dobbs airs segment debunking his own conspiracy theories
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Dominion Voting Systems has filed a $1.6bn (£1.2bn) defamation lawsuit against Fox News over false claims during the 2020 election.

The voting systems company has accused the broadcaster of claiming that Dominion had rigged the 2020 election in an effort to boost ratings.

The company became the target of continued false claims spread by former president Donald Trump and his allies in an attempt to undermine the 2020 election.

Dominion argues that Fox News “sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process,” according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by the Associated Press.

Fox News told The Independent: “FOX News Media is proud of our 2020 election coverage, which stands in the highest tradition of American journalism, and will vigorously defend against this baseless lawsuit in court.”

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A number of federal and state government officials have confirmed they found no evidence votes in the 2020 presidential election were compromised in any way.

Despite around 50 lawsuits filed in several swing states lost by Mr Trump in an attempt to overturn the election, the Department of Justice also said in December that they had found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the wake of the election.

Fox News gave airtime to false claims that Dominion had changed votes through algorithms in voting machines and had supposedly been created in Venezuela to rig elections for the late dictator Hugo Chavez.

Presenters brought on Mr Trump’s allies including Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani discuss the claims, which were then amplified to huge audiences on Fox News’ social media platforms.

Dominion’s lawsuit says it tried repeatedly to set the record straight but was ignored by the right-wing broadcaster.

While some Fox News on-air reporting segments debunked some of their own claims regarding election fraud, attorneys for Dominion said the broadcaster’s coverage had differed greatly from that of other media outlets and had caused “enormous and irreparable economic harm”.

“This was a conscious, knowing business decision to endorse and repeat and broadcast these lies in order to keep its viewership,” said lawyer Justin Nelson, of Susman Godfrey LLC.

In December, the broadcaster released a series of unusual news packages debunking baseless claims of electoral fraud in the wake of a legal threat from another electronic voting company: Smartmatic USA.

In February, the voting technology company filed a $2.7bn (£2bn) lawsuit against Fox News, as well as Mr Giuliani, Mr Trump’s personal lawyer and the former mayor of New York, and Ms Powell.

Fox News, Maria Bartiromo, Judge Jeanine Pirro, and former host Lou Dobbs filed four separate motions to dismiss the lawsuit by Smartmatic.

“This suit strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. Smartmatic’s theory is fundamentally incompatible with the reality of the modern news network and deeply rooted principles of free speech law,” Kirkland & Ellis Partner Paul Clement, who filed the motion on behalf of Fox News Media, said.

Fox News Media added: “Fox News has moved to dismiss the Smartmatic lawsuit because it is meritless. If the First Amendment means anything, it means that Fox cannot be held liable for fairly reporting and commenting on competing allegations in a hotly contested and actively litigated election.”

Dominion has also sued Mr Giuliani, Ms Powell, and the CEO of Minnesota-based MyPillow, Mike Lindell, over the claims. 

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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