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Fox moves to dismiss $2.7B Smartmatic lawsuit

Fox moves to dismiss $2.7B Smartmatic lawsuit

by Mike Brest | Washington Examiner  |  Published on February 9, 2021

Fox News’s legal team moved to end Smartmatic’s multibillion-dollar defamation lawsuit, citing the First Amendment.

The network filed a motion to dismiss the voting software company’s $2.7 billion lawsuit on Monday, arguing that the complaint aims to “stifle debate and chill vital First Amendment activities.” Smartmatic alleges that the network engaged in a “disinformation campaign,” which involved giving air time to claims about voting machines and software being involved in election fraud.

Paul Clement, of Kirkland & Ellis Partner, filed the motion on the network’s behalf and said in a statement, “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.”

A spokesperson for the network called the lawsuit “meritless,” adding, “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. We are proud of our election coverage which stands in the highest tradition of American journalism.”

J. Erik Connolly, the lawyer for Smartmatic, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner regarding the motion.

Smartmatic filed its lawsuit last week in New York state court in Manhattan, naming the network, three on-air talent personalities, and pro-Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell. Hosts Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro, and Maria Bartiromo were named in the suit after they, and the network, received letters warning them of potential litigation.

Dobbs’s Fox Business show was canceled on Friday, a day after the suit was filed. A Fox spokesperson told the Washington Examiner that the decision to part ways with Dobbs was part of planned changes in the works since before the November election.

Following the 2020 election, Smartmatic and another voting technology company, Dominion Voting Systems, became the targets of allegations claiming they helped flip votes cast for former President Donald Trump to now-President Biden.

Both companies, as well as election officials, rejected these claims. So too did the courts as the Trump campaign and GOP-adjacent lawyers filed dozens of lawsuits hinging on claims of widespread voter fraud. Smartmatic says Los Angeles County, California, is the only location in the U.S. where its software was used in the 2020 election.

Giuliani and Powell shared their voter fraud claims on Fox News and other networks, including Newsmax. Powell alleged in her so-called “Kraken” lawsuits and in television appearances that the voting machines are the same kind used in Venezuela during the Hugo Chavez regime and that there is an illegal vote-changing scheme in U.S. politics involving members of both parties.

In December, fact-checking segments about election fraud allegations surrounding Smartmatic aired on Dobbs’s, Pirro’s, and Bartiromo’s shows on Fox News and Fox Business following the threat of a lawsuit. The segment, which did not include the hosts themselves, was comprised of an interview with Eddie Perez, the global director of technology development and open standards for the Open Source Election Technology Institute, who answered questions about Smartmatic.

Smartmatic has also threatened litigation against Newsmax and One America News Network, both smaller far-right television networks that promoted similar election fraud theories. Newsmax has issued a clarifying statement acknowledging that they have no evidence of fraud and accept the results of the election.

Smartmatic said in a statement, “We are continuing to analyze our claims against OANN and Newsmax. We are taking a measured approach to pursuing our claims.”

Dominion has filed two defamation lawsuits against Giuliani, who is Trump’s personal lawyer, and Powell, seeking $1.3 billion each. The company has issued similar threats among more than 150 others whom the company alleges have promoted the unverified theory.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has repeatedly challenged Dominion’s lawyers and has threatened a countersuit. He also created a dubious documentary that aired multiple times on One America News Network starting last week.

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