Fox News Slapped With $1.6 Billion Lawsuit Over 2020 Election Claims
Dominion Voting Systems on Friday filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, arguing the cable news company sought to boost faltering ratings by falsely claiming the voting machine company had rigged the 2020 election.
The company, which is headquartered in Toronto, Canada and Denver, Colo., found itself last fall at the center of false claims spread by former President Donald Trump and his allies that its voting machines were at the heart of a conspiracy to deny him re-election.
Those claims were later cited as the primary cause of the violent siege in the U.S. Capitol in January that left five people dead and 140 others injured.
In a 139-page complaint filed in Delaware Superior Court, Dominion asserts Fox News acted as a megaphone for false claims the company tinkered with the votes in now-President Joe Biden’s favor.
“The disinformation campaign waged against our company has caused us severe damage and undermined trust in American democratic institutions,”Dominion CEO John Poulos said in a written statement. “These lies also have threatened the personal safety of our employees and customers. No amount of money will repair the damage done.”
Fox News, the company says, “sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process.”
“If this case does not rise to the level of defamation by a broadcaster, then nothing does,” it adds.
Claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election have been refuted by elections officials in all 50 states and even by Trump’s own attorney general, William Barr.
Nearly all the legal challenges filed by Trump and his confederates were dismissed in court, including two by the Supreme Court, which has three Trump-nominated justices.
While some Fox News employees did indeed push back against some of the fraud claims in their reports, others continued to report the Dominion had used various algorithms in its voting machines to rig an election for the late dictator Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and that the same type of rigging had occurred in the U.S. election last year.
Several Trump allies, including his personal attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, appeared on Fox News making similar claims, and these reports were then circulated widely via social media, the lawsuit says.
Dominion says in the lawsuit that it tried repeatedly to set the record straight but was ignored by Fox News.
Tom Clare, partner at Clare Locke LLP, and one of the lawyers representing Dominion said, “Despite claiming to be a news network, Fox actively propagated disinformation to purposely mislead viewers.
“It knowingly spread lies about Dominion Voting Systems repeatedly for months, all the while deliberately ignoring Dominion’s specific and repeated warnings that these smears were not true,” he said.”Furthermore, multiple U.S. government agencies, third parties, and elected officials across 28 states have conclusively affirmed that no voting system deleted, lost, or changed votes in the 2020 election. However, if a viewer watched Fox, they would be none the wiser. The network endorsed, repeated, and broadcast a series of verifiably false, yet devastating, lies about Dominion. Fox’s viral disinformation campaign reached over a billion people worldwide and caused enormous harm to Dominion.”
Dominion has also sued Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Mike Lindell, the CEO of Minnesota-based MyPillow over the claims.
A rival technology company, Smartmatic USA, also sued Fox News over election claims. Unlike Dominion, Smartmatic’s participation in the 2020 election was restricted to Los Angeles County.
Stephen Shackelford, partner at Susman Godfrey LLP, another of the lawyers representing Dominion, said Friday morning that “Fox knowingly lied about Dominion in order to keep, increase, and win back viewers. While Fox’s strategy paid off big time, its victim was Dominion, not to mention the truth.
“Dominion brings this lawsuit to set the record straight, to vindicate its rights, and to recover damages for the devastating economic harm done to its business. Dominion is entitled to punitive damages because Fox’s defamatory statements were accompanied by malice, wantonness, and a conscious desire to cause injury. Fox made the defamatory statements heedlessly and with a reckless and willful indifference to Dominion’s rights. This lawsuit is about accountability. The truth matters. Lies have consequences.”
Fox News has yet to comment on the lawsuit.