Smartmatic says that Fox’s disinformation likely cost the company billions of dollars in potential profits.
Smartmatic, a small election technology company, has filed a lawsuit against Fox News and its parent corporation, accusing the companies of defamation and conspiracy.
The New York Times reports that the complaint was lodged in New York State Supreme Court earlier this week.
The lawsuit itself was filed by Smartmatic, a relatively obscure election technology company that operated vote-counting devices in a single county. But Smartmatic’s suit is hitting high: it names as defendants Fox News, alongside network anchors Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs, and Jeanine Pirro.
Several of Trump’s attorneys, past and present, are also listed as defendants—they include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, as well as Sidney Powell, who attempted to block several states from certifying election results.
According to the New York Times, Smartmatic’s gambit could land Fox News in major trouble.
If the lawsuit advances to trial, Smartmatic attorneys could show the nation how Fox propaganda cast doubt on the results of the 2020 presidential elections—doubt which culminated in the January 6th Capitol riots in Washington, D.C.
Smartmatic has, thus far, demanded that Fox pay at least $2.7 billion in damages.
In its suit, Smartmatic observes that Fox News devoted significant airtime to anchors and hosts who maintained that Democrats were somehow “cheating” former President Donald Trump out of his position.
Several Fox anchors—and guest speakers—advanced discredited conspiracy theories that Democrats were manipulating election results or otherwise facilitating voter fraud.
Smartmatic maintains that Fox’s coverage “jeopardized [its] multibillion-dollar pipeline of business.” The company also claims that Fox has made it more difficult for companies like Smartmatic to succeed and profit in the future.
However, attorneys for Fox had steadfastly denied the allegations.
“Fox News Media is committed to providing the full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear opinion,” Fox said in a statement. “We are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court.”
Laura Coates, CNN’s senior legal analysis, told the network that Smartmatic is effectively accusing Fox of knowingly spreading disinformation.
“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,” Coates said.
Smartmatic CEO and founder Antonio Mugica further told CNN that the company has no choice but to take Fox to court, in large part because Fox and its anchors essentially sought to discredit and destroy election technology companies like his.
“The disinformation campaign that was launched against us is an obliterating one,” Mugica said. “For us, this is existential, and we have to take action.”