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Political Litigation

Smartmatic Lawsuit Says Fox News’s Faux Journalism Isn’t Protected By First Amendment

— April 14, 2021

Election technology company Smartmatic is pushing back against Fox News, claiming the media outlet peddled conspiracy theories and pushed disinformation during the last presidential race.

According to The New York Times, Smartmatic has filed a lawsuit accusing Fox of overstepping the bounds of journalistic integrity.

In its lawsuit, Smartmatic claims that Fox’s election coverage damaged the company’s reputation. Fox, along with several of its news anchors, repeatedly suggested that Smartmatic somehow “fixed” the 2020 presidential election.

Fox hosts had, for instance, alleged that Smartmatic worked with deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez to plant ballots—and implemented a similar strategy to secure then-candidate Joe Biden’s victory against former President Donald Trump.

“The First Amendment does not provide the Fox defendants a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Smartmatic attorney Erik Connolly wrote in a court brief. “The Fox defendants do not get a do-over with their reporting now that they have been sued.”

The Times reports that Smartmatic’s brief follows Fox’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.

Dominion, another elections technology company, has also filed suit against Fox.

In a Monday statement, Fox said that Smartmatic’s brief was baseless.

A man in a suit stands at a podium, pointing.
Donald Trump. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0

“The filing only confirms our view that that the suit is meritless and Fox News covered the election in the highest tradition of the First Amendment,” Fox said.

Fox, notes The New York Times, has argued that it and its anchors were simply doing their duty: reporting Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the results of the 2020 presidential race, as well as Joe Biden’s victory in the same, were baseless.

However, Smartmatic has since said that Fox’s coverage was neither objective nor realistic.

Smartmatic’s court brief observed that Fox’s reporting was primarily influenced by Trump proxies and had little to no bearing in reality.

“The Fox defendants solicited and published calculated falsehoods about Smartmatic,” company attorneys wrote. “They enjoy no protection or immunity pursuant to the First Amendment or New York law.”

“The Fox defendants wedded themselves to Giuliani and Powell during their programs,” the brief said. “They cannot distance themselves now.”

Along with Fox, Smartmatic has also named network anchors Maria Bartiromo, Jeanne Pirro and Lou Dobbs as defendants.

“Prior to the interviews, the Fox anchors decided to join forces with Giuliani and Powell to disseminate disinformation about Smartmatic. The Fox anchors knew what Giuliani and Powell would say on their shows, asked questions to elicit lies about Smartmatic, and endorsed Giuliani’s and Powell’s investigation,” the lawsuit states. “The Fox anchors added their own defamatory comments about Smartmatic for good measure. This was a scripted performance by the Fox anchors, Giuliani, and Powell to defame and disparage Smartmatic for personal gain.”


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Smartmatic says Fox News shouldn’t have journalism protections in defamation lawsuit over election conspiracy theories

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