Fox Slams Smartmatic Suit, Countersues for Costs
Said disinformation claim is baseless and damage claims 'fanciful'
Fox has told the New York State Supreme Court that it engaged in no disinformation campaign when it aired news of the opinions of the former President and others on the 2020 election and voting machines, or aired other's opinions about the issue on air, and that the lawsuit filed against it by voting machine company Smartmatic USA.
That came in four separate answers to the suit, which named Fox News, Fox Corp. Maria Bartiromo and Loud Dobbs, as well as a countersuit under anti-SLAPP law.
Smartmatic filed a $2.7 billion defamation and disparagement suit against Fox News owner Fox Corp. and the hosts back in February 2021, alleging Fox conducted a disinformation campaign against the election technology company.
The answers were summed up this way: "This lawsuit strikes at the heart of the news media’s First Amendment mission and right to inform on matters of public interest. Not only is Smartmatic advancing novel defamation theories that lack any grounding in law, but Smartmatic’s staggering damages claim is divorced from reality and serves no apparent purpose other than to generate speech-chilling headlines."
Also: Fox News Media Hosts Seek Dismissal of Smartmatic Suit
Fox said that Smartmatic's claim of being worth $2.7 billion--on which Smartmatic's damages claim was based--was "fanciful" given that it had not turned a profit since 2016.
As to Fox engaging in a disinformation campaign, Fox said: "When the President of the United States, his legal team, and his surrogates leveled allegations about the role of fraud in the 2020 Presidential election, Fox News followed this Nation’s strong traditions of press freedom by covering those claims."
Fox said it covered those "newsworthy allegations" from a variety of perspectives, including reporting when the vote machine companies denied the allegations made by former president Trump, while some of its on-air hosts engaged in "protected opinion commentary about those claims."
Fox filed a counterclaim for costa and attorneys fees citing New York's Anti-SLAPP statute, which is meant to prevent the use of the courts to suppress journalists' First Amendment rights.
"While the recovery of fees and costs will not undo all the damage this First Amendment-defying lawsuit has wrought, at least it may cause the next plaintiff to think twice before trying to penalize the press to the tune of billions of dollars in non-existent damages for ensuring that the people can hear perspectives from all sides of the most pressing controversies of the day," said Fox. ■
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.