Fox News asks court to dismiss $2.7 billion lawsuit over election conspiracy theories, saying it just offered ‘unquestionably newsworthy information’
Fox News has asked a judge to dismiss the $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit from election technology company Smartmatic.
Fox says it “fairly reporting and commenting on competing allegations in a hotly contested and actively litigated election.”
Fox News filed a motion Monday to dismiss a lawsuit from Smartmatic, the voting technology company that accused it of irreparably harming the company and “damaging democracy worldwide.”
Asking the judge to reject the $2.7 billion lawsuit – filed against individual Fox News hosts, as well election conspiracy theorist attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani – Fox News said it was simply offering the public “unquestionably newsworthy information.”
“The logic of Smartmatic’s position would be that the press must censor all discussion of even the most newsworthy of public controversies to escape imputation of actual malice, even in the context of statements by objectively newsworthy third parties during live television interviews,” attorneys for Fox News argued.
In a defamation suit, Smartmatic alleged that Fox and other defendants invented a story that the election was stolen from Donald Trump and made Smartmatic “the villain in their story”.
Fox said it moved to dismiss the Smartmatic lawsuit because it was “meritless” and it defended its reporting of the U.S. presidential election.
“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,” it said in a statement.
In its suit, Smartmatic sought more than $2.7 billion in compensatory and punitive damages. It also asks for defendants to retract false statements.
Fox said that it cannot be held liable for covering all sides of a “vigorous debate of profound national importance.”
“When a sitting president and his surrogates claim that an election was rigged, the public has a right to know what they are claiming, full stop,” it said.
The lawsuit named hosts Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro, and Lou Dobbs as individual defendants. Days after it was filed, the Fox Business Network canceled Dobbs’s show, saying the move was part of “planned changes.”
After the election, Trump and some of his supporters spread false claims of election fraud, including that Smartmatic manipulated the results.
Smartmatic in December demanded Fox News retract allegations leveled by its employees and guests, but Fox did not comply and instead aired an interview on the three hosts’ programs with an outside expert who said there was no evidence to support claims made against Smartmatic.
Reuters contributed reporting.
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