Smartmatic has alleged that Fox and other defendants invented a story that the election was stolen from Trump and decided to make the company “the villain in their story."
Electronic voting systems maker Smartmatic has sued Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News cable network and Rudolph Giuliani, a lawyer for former President Donald Trump, claiming they defamed the company by falsely accusing it of helping to rig the US presidential election in favour of Joe Biden.
The suit, filed in New York County Supreme Court, also names as defendants former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, Fox Corp and Fox hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro.
Smartmatic alleged that Fox and other defendants invented a story that the election was stolen from Trump and decided to make Smartmatic “the villain in their story."
“Fox News used the story to preserve its grip on viewers and readers and curry favours with the outgoing administration – one of their anchors was even able to get a pardon for her ex-husband,” the lawsuit said, referring to Pirro.
The suit seeks more than $2.7 billion in compensatory and punitive damages.
Smartmatic also asks for defendants to retract “false statements and implications.”
We have filed a $2.7B defamation and disparagement lawsuit against @FoxNews for false claims about us related to US 2020 presidential #election. Read the full release on our website https://t.co/yxs3QV05U3 pic.twitter.com/8bk4eQkngg— Smartmatic (@smartmatic) February 4, 2021
Recovering a reputation
“Fox News Media is committed to providing the full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear opinion," a Fox News Media spokesperson said in a statement. "We are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court.”
Dobbs referred questions to Fox News for comment as did a representative for Bartiromo.
The other defendants did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Florida-based Smartmatic's technology was only used in one place for the November 3 presidential election - Los Angeles County, which Biden won.
"This is a first step in trying to recover our reputation and trying to set the record straight," said Smartmatic Chief Executive Antonio Mugica in an interview.
Here is the 285-page, $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit that election tech company Smartmatic filed today in state court in Manhattan against Fox, Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell: https://t.co/VYwrKETtyS— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) February 4, 2021
Intro: "The Earth is round." pic.twitter.com/dZzyPBuIvd
Election fraud claims
After the election, Trump and some of his supporters spread false claims of election fraud, including that Smartmatic and competitor Dominion Voting Systems manipulated the results.
On December 10, Smartmatic sent a letter to Fox News demanding that it retract allegations levelled by its employees and guests.
Fox did not issue a retraction.
Instead in December it aired an interview on the three hosts' programs, featuring an outside expert who confirmed there was no evidence to support the Smartmatic claims by Fox hosts and guests.
Dominion Voting Systems has filed similar lawsuits against Giuliani and Powell.