June 15, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Voting software Smartmatic sues Fox News for $2.7 billion

Smartmatic, the voting software company that former President Trump’s lawyers falsely accused of manipulating vote counts in the 2020 presidential election, has filed a $2.7-billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News and three of its on-air hosts — Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro — who presented the disinformation on their programs.

The suit filed Thursday in New York State Supreme Court also names Trump’s lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani, who were frequent guests on Fox News programs in the weeks after the November election, which the former president insisted was rigged against him to elect President Biden.

Smartmatic, which is based in London, said Trump’s lawyers and the Fox News anchors presented false conspiracy theories and accusations about the company’s role in the election that damaged its reputation.

“The election was not stolen, rigged, or fixed,” the suit says. “These are facts. They are demonstrable and irrefutable. Defendants have always known these facts. They knew Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the 2020 U.S. election. They knew the election was not stolen. They knew the election was not rigged or fixed. They knew these truths just as they knew the Earth is round and two plus two equals four.”

After Fox News hosts presented the claims by Powell and Giuliani with virtually no pushback, Smartmatic officers received hate mail and death threats and clients panicked, the suit said.

“The company’s reputation for providing transparent, auditable, and secure election technology and software was irreparably harmed,” the suit said. “Overnight, Smartmatic went from an under-the-radar election technology and software company with a track record of success to the villain in [the] defendants’ disinformation campaign.”

A statement from Fox News Media denied any wrongdoing.

“Fox News Media is committed to providing the full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear opinion,” the company said. “We are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court.”

Lou Dobbs hosts “Lou Dobbs Tonight” at Fox Business Network Studios on Dec. 13, 2018.

(Steven Ferdman / Getty Images)

Fox News had been warned that Smartmatic was considering legal action and issued a video “fact check” in December that had a voting expert dispute many of the claims presented on its programs.

Smartmatic’s lawsuit is likely to test the line Fox News uses to separate its news content — billed as straight ahead reporting — from its opinion programs where hosts are given latitude to speculate on issues as well as pontificate. Whereas Dobbs and Pirro are deemed opinion hosts by the network, Bartiromo told The Times in a December interview that she considers herself a news anchor.

The suit said Fox News promotes the hosts and their programs as being “reliable sources for facts.”

The 285-page suit details the falsehoods that were repeated in the hosts’ coverage after the election.

They include allegations that Smartmatic software was used in six states with close outcomes in the presidential race. The company’s products were used only in Los Angeles County during the 2020 election.

Powell and Guiliani repeatedly said Smartmatic was a Venezuelan company founded by corrupt dictators from socialist and communist countries. They also said votes were sent to foreign countries for “tabulation and manipulation” during the 2020 election.

The lawyers also said Smartmatic’s software and technology were designed to rig and fix the election and were used by Dominion Voting Systems, another company they falsely accused of being involved in voting fraud.

Like other news networks, Fox News journalists reported there was no evidence to support Trump’s claims of voter fraud that he and his acolytes repeated in the weeks after Biden won the election. But Bartiromo, Dobbs and Pirro continued to present the claims on their programs without disputing them.

The hosts often referred to the lawyers’ claims in social media posts and promotional teases on their programs.

“We’re going to examine in some detail the reasons for what is apparently a broadly coordinated effort to actually bring down this president by ending his second term before it could begin,” Dobbs said on a Nov. 20 edition of his Fox Business News program where Powell was a guest.

A Facebook post on Dobbs’ page said: “Cyber Pearl Harbor: Sidney Powell reveals groundbreaking new evidence indicating our presidential election came under massive cyberattack orchestrated with the help of Dominion, Smartmatic, and foreign adversaries.”

Dobbs also promoted his show with a tweet that said: “Evidence of Fraud: Sidney Powell says the FBI and law enforcement aren’t interested in electoral fraud witnesses and offers to make public evidence of a cyberattack on the U.S. election system.”

Powell appeared on Bartiromo’s “Sunday Morning Futures” program Nov. 15 and falsely claimed there was evidence of Smartmatic having altered the vote count. “We’ve identified mathematically the exact algorithm they used and plan to use from the beginning to modify the votes in this case to make sure Biden won,” she said.

Dominion Voting Sytems has already filed defamation lawsuits against Guiliani and Powell, accusing them of spreading false conspiracy theories about the election. The Denver company is also said to be considering a suit against Fox News.

Powell said she has yet to receive a copy of the lawsuit. “This is just another political maneuver and outrageous abusive ‘lawfare’ by the radical left that has no basis in fact or law,” she said in a statement.

Guiliani could not be reached.