Fox News has filed a motion arguing that Smartmatic’s $2.7 billion defamation suit filed against it be dismissed. The news network states its coverage of Smartmatic comes within the purview of the First Amendment. It argued that the company might have a defamation case against former president Donald Trump’s surrogates if they have spread lies or fabricated evidence. However, the case has no validity against the news network since it only exercised its right to cover the allegations against Smartmatic.
“When a sitting President and his surrogates bring lawsuits challenging the results of an election, the public has a right to know the substance of their claims and what evidence backs them up, full stop. In that context, interviewing the President’s lawyers is a fully protected First Amendment activity, whether those lawyers can substantiate their claims or not. Here, Fox was providing precisely that kind of newsworthy information — typically allowing the President’s surrogates to explain their allegations and evidence themselves,” the network stated in its motion.
Smartmatic had sued Fox News and pro-Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell for engaging in conspiracy and spreading disinformation following the 2020 presidential election. The accused are said to have lied about the company’s nature, its role in the election, and its ties with Venezuela. Smartmatic accused the defendants of engaging in these narratives to gain more readers or viewers, to be favored by the outgoing administration, and to benefit financially. Fox News has dismissed the case as “meritless.”
Fox stressed that protection from the First Amendment ensures that it can report on any matters fairly and not be held liable for such actions. Fox News has filed the motion at the New York Supreme Court, where it argues that the state’s anti-SLAPP law, which is designed to prevent litigation that curbs free speech, sets a very high standard of proof on Smartmatic.
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Fox News also wants to remove its parent company, Fox Corp, as a defendant, pointing out that the parent firm was not involved in any manner with the “speakers and statements at issue.” The motion states that Smartmatic is a public figure. If the court accepts the argument, Fox will have an easier time getting the lawsuit dismissed.
The lawsuit also names Fox News hosts Loud Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro, and Maria Bartiromo as defendants. The network has already canceled Lou Dobbs’ employment. However, Dobb’s negative coverage of Smartmatic may not be the sole reason for his termination. The plan to remove him may have been planned last year. His Smartmatic coverage, in which Dobbs accused the company of potentially engaging in fraudulent acts in the 2020 election, may have been the final straw.
“Lou Dobbs is and was great. Nobody loves America more than Lou. He had a large and loyal following that will be watching closely for his next move, and that following includes me,” Trump said in a statement. The 74-year-old Dobbs worked for CNN in the 80s. He moved to Fox in 2011, where his show aired at 7 PM on weekdays. Dobbs won the Luminary Award by the Business Journalism Review and an Emmy for Lifetime Achievement.