UPDATED with Fox News statement. Fox News has hit back at Dominion Voting Systems, calling its $1.6 billion lawsuit “baseless” and defending its coverage of last November’s election and its aftermath.
“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,” the company said in a statement.
Read suit here.
In a separate, $2.7 billion lawsuit filed by Smartmatic, Fox News, parent Fox Corp. and other defendants have filed motions to dismiss the case, citing First Amendment protection.
PREVIOUSLY: Fox News is the latest legal target of Dominion Voting Systems. The company has sued the Fox Corp. TV network for $1.6 billion for spreading false information about the 2020 election.
Dominion has sued several others it accuses of perpetuating the erroneous claims that its machines were manipulated in order to tilt the results in Democrats’ favor. President Joe Biden has been certified by dozens of governing bodies and legal venues as the legitimate winner of the presidential election. No fraud claims have ever been substantiated. Yet former President Donald Trump and his supporters spent two months asserting Trump had been robbed of victory. The backlash culminated in the violent January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.
In the lawsuit, filed in Delaware Superior Court, Dominion says Fox News “sold a false story of election fraud.” The company had previously sued MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell for allegedly damaging its reputation. All three appeared often on Fox and other conservative outlets throughout November and December and into January.
Trump himself appeared via telephone on Laura Ingraham’s opinion hour Thursday and the host cut him off when he began to advance fraud claims again. The network, along with outlets like Newsmax and ONN, have shifted away from their initial embrace of bogus fraud theories in light of the legal threat. As Trump aired familiar grievances about a “third-world election” and what he sees as a dereliction of duty by the Supreme Court to call the election for him, Ingraham interrupted. “Speaking as a lawyer, we’re not going to relitigate the past,” she said.
Dominion voting machines are used in 28 states but the company had almost no public profile until it was cast as a central villain in the fictional fraud tale. From its CEO down to engineers and technicians, company employees have been harassed by Trump supporters, the company has said.
“The truth matters. Lies have consequences,” the lawsuit said. “Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process. If this case does not rise to the level of defamation by a broadcaster, then nothing does.”
During the post-election period, there were indications of internal division within Fox News over segments the network aired, both during daytime news coverage and on primetime opinion shows. No individual hosts on Fox were named in the complaint, but lawyers are still considering whether to pursue claims against them, according to multiple press reports this morning. The case brought by Smartmatic, the other voting tech firm to sue Fox, named Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs as defendants.
“The buck stops with Fox on this,” attorney Stephen Shackelford told the Associated Press. “Fox chose to put this on all of its many platforms. They rebroadcast, republished it on social media and other places.”