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Fox News still faces $2.7B defamation lawsuit from another voting machine firm


Fox News is staring down the barrel of a $2.7billion defamation lawsuit from another voting machine firm after its record-breaking $787.5million settlement with Dominion.

Lawyers for the Rupert Murdoch-owned network are now gearing up for what could be an even more costly suit brought by Smartmatic, which alleges Fox knowingly aired false claims that its software was used to rig the 2020 presidential election.

The conservative network denies the allegation and says it was reporting newsworthy claims of voter fraud. Fox made similar denials before settling with Dominion and admitting the court found ‘certain claims about Dominion to be false’.

Legal experts today warned that the channel had given Smartmatic a ‘bargaining chip’ in showing a willingness to write a fat check to avoid trial.

The settlement at the eleventh hour Tuesday meant Fox was able to avoid a potentially humiliating trial that would have seen Murdoch and primetime stars like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity dragged into open court.

Rupert Murdoch on November 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, California

Smartmatic CEO and founder Antonio Mugica. He has called conspiracy theories about his firm 'absurd'

Smartmatic CEO and founder Antonio Mugica. He has called conspiracy theories about his firm ‘absurd’

A Smartmatic representative demonstrates his company's system which has scanners and touch screens with printout options at a meeting of the Secure, Accessible & Fair Elections Commission in Grovetown, Georgia, in August 2018

A Smartmatic representative demonstrates his company’s system which has scanners and touch screens with printout options at a meeting of the Secure, Accessible & Fair Elections Commission in Grovetown, Georgia, in August 2018

The payout was also less than half the $1.6billion sought by Dominion. To put that into context, the network’s parent company Fox Corporation raked in $1.23billion last year – and is sitting on cash reserves of around $4billion, according to the latest filings. 

Murdoch and his family – who run the News Corp empire which includes Fox News, The Times of London and The Wall Street Journal – have an estimated fortune of $17.6billion, according to Forbes. 

Judge Eric Davis announced the last-minute agreement after the 12 jurors had been selected and the Delaware Superior Court was readying to hear opening arguments. 

Fox News said in a statement it was ‘pleased’ to have ended the dispute and added: ‘We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. This settlement reflects FOX’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.

‘We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial, allows the country to move forward from these issues.’

The Smartmatic case is still in the discovery process, meaning that a trial is not expected anytime soon.

But the London-based software company now feels it is on the front foot.

‘Dominion’s litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign,’ a Smartmatic attorney said in a statement. ‘Smartmatic will expose the rest.’ 

Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, and other on-air stars, were deposed in the Dominion case last year

Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, and other on-air stars, were deposed in the Dominion case last year

Jeanine Pirro interviewing Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, who is also being sued by Dominion in a separate lawsuit. They are pictured on November 14, 2020

Jeanine Pirro interviewing Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, who is also being sued by Dominion in a separate lawsuit. They are pictured on November 14, 2020

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell

Rudy Giuliani

A separate Dominion suit also slams the network for allowing guests such as former New York mayor and Trump cohort, Rudy Giuliani and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell on air to peddle conspiracy theories  about voter fraud unchallenged and unchecked

Knoxville media law professor Stuart Brotman today warned that the settlement was a boon for Smartmatic.

‘Smartmatic now has a bargaining chip, and Fox has shown it is willing to take out its checkbook and write a big check,’ said Brotman. ‘From Fox’s standpoint, now that they realize they can get a successful settlement, they have a basis for a real discussion with Smartmatic.’

Smartmatic is seeking $2.7 billion in damages from Fox and five individuals, including former Trump lawyers and hosts.

The company alleges in its lawsuit in New York County Supreme Court that the defendants knowingly spread false claims that its software was used to flip votes. 

Conspiracy theorists erroneously claimed Smartmatic owned Dominion, and the companies mounted similar allegations in their lawsuits.

Smartmatic attorney J. Erik Connolly said in a statement Tuesday the company is committed to clearing its name, recouping the damage done to it and ‘holding Fox accountable for undermining democracy.’

Fox denies the allegations, saying in a recent statement the network had a right to report on highly newsworthy allegations of voter fraud.

The trial has been widely viewed as a test of whether Fox's coverage crossed the line between ethical journalism and the heedless pursuit of ratings, as Dominion alleges and Fox denies

The trial has been widely viewed as a test of whether Fox’s coverage crossed the line between ethical journalism and the heedless pursuit of ratings, as Dominion alleges and Fox denies

It has also called Smartmatic’s damages claims ‘outrageous, unsupported, and not rooted in sound financial analysis.’

Fox was recently dealt a setback in the case after an appeals court declined to toss it, finding Smartmatic alleged in ‘detailed fashion’ how Fox ‘effectively endorsed and participated’ in defamation.

Meanwhile, Fox has given no public indication that it is interested in settling the lawsuit by the former producer, Abby Grossberg, whose lawyers said in a statement Tuesday they are seeking ‘meaningful institutional changes at Fox News.’

Any such changes were absent from the public announcement of the Dominion settlement and could potentially be a major sticking point in any negotiations, legal experts said.

Grossberg alleges she was exposed to sexism at Fox and unjustly fired after she objected to what she claims were efforts to pressure her into giving misleading testimony in the Dominion case.

Fox has said the allegations are ‘baseless’ and were immediately investigated by outside lawyers. The network also says it will ‘vigorously’ defend itself against all of Grossberg´s claims.



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