In a blockbuster $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, its stars and well-known conspiracy theorist guests, the voting machine company Smartmatic opens their legal fusillade with elementary school lessons leading to their larger point.
“The Earth is round. Two plus two equals four,” the 276-page lawsuit begins. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the 2020 election for President and Vice President of the United States. The election was not stolen, rigged, or fixed. These are facts. They are demonstrable and irrefutable.”
If such points may be widely known and accepted, Smartmatic argues they were lost upon Fox personalities Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs, and Jeanine Pirro—and former President Donald Trump’s lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, all of whom are named as defendants.
Smartmatic’s CEO Antonio Mugica characterized the company’s lawsuit as a blow in the fight against disinformation, echoing what Dominion Voting Systems’ lawyers said about the purpose of their lawsuit.
“Fox is responsible for this disinformation campaign, which has damaged democracy worldwide and irreparably harmed Smartmatic and other stakeholders who contribute to modern elections,” Mugica said.
The company’s attorney J. Erik Connolly, from the firm Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff, LLP, said of Fox: “They lied, and they did so knowingly and intentionally.”
Insisting upon anonymity, Fox News indicated in a statement that it would fight the lawsuit.
“FOX News Media is committed to providing the full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear opinion,” a Fox News Media spokesperson said. “We are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court.”
Besieged by requests for retractions and lawyers’ letters, Fox started airing interviews with Eddie Perez, a voting technology expert at the OSET Institute in Palo Alto, a nonpartisan election technology research and development nonprofit.
In segments that ran on Bartiromo, Dobbs and Pirro‘s programs, Perez systematically debunked the previously peddled smears.
Fox now characterizes this as part of the network’s commitment to airing the full story, but Smartmatic says the version of events broadcast before the backpedal had “devastating” consequence for both the company and their staffers.
“Smartmatic’s support lines and customer-service inboxes have been filled with death threats, forcing Smartmatic to invest heavily in increased security for its offices and personnel,” the lawsuit states. “The threats and added stress from the negative publicity has put an immeasurable strain on the company’s workforce, requiring significant investment in retention and recruitment programs.”
“The backlash created by Defendants’ disinformation campaign has also decimated Smartmatic’s future business prospects,” the complaint states, calculating their losses in “election-related brand, reputation, and enterprise value” to the amount they are seeking damages.
Airing the segments benefited Fox and its hosts more than financially, Smartmatic notes.
“Fox News used the story to preserve its grip on viewers and readers and curry favors with the outgoing administration – one of their anchors was even able to get a pardon for her ex-husband,” the complaint states, in what appears to be a sly allusion to Al Pirro’s pardon for tax evasion some 45 minutes before Biden’s swearing-in as president.
Tying the network’s segments to the events of Jan. 6, Smartmatic’s lawsuit declares: “The story led a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol.”
The company filed the complaint in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Dominion, another voting machine company subjected to 2020 election conspiracy theories, also sued Powell for $1.3 billion in a similar lawsuit last month. The company filed another billion-dollar suit against Giuliani later in the month, refusing to rule out adding Trump to the list.
Right before Christmas Eve, Dominion sent out a barrage of 21 retraction or records-preservation demands that extended far beyond Fox. Recipients included Rush Limbaugh, Colorado conservative activist Joseph Oltmann, Rudy Giuliani, Newsmax’s Greg Kelly, and supposed witnesses to lawsuits by Giuliani and Powell, such as so-called “Kraken” affidavit-signer Josh Merritt (code-named “Spyder”), “Exhibit Q” declarant Russell Ramsland, the Saturday Night Live–spoofed Mellissa Carone.
Dominion signaled the offensive against Fox and its hosts would not be the end.
“We are continuing to analyze our claims against OANN and Newsmax,” the company wrote among its frequently asked questions. “We are taking a measured aproach to pursuing our claims.”
Powell did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
Read Smartmatic’s lawsuit below:
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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