Fox News Settled Its Suit, but Similar 2020 Election Cases Are Pending
On Tuesday, Fox News hastily agreed to pay $787.5 million to resolve a defamation suit filed by Dominion Voting Systems — among the largest settlements ever in a defamation case — just hours after the jury for the trial was selected. In addition to the whopping financial settlement, Fox conceded that “certain claims” it had made about Dominion were false.
In settling with Dominion, the network avoided the possible embarrassment of a trial that could have exposed its inner workings. Rupert Murdoch, the 92-year-old Fox News founder, and the Fox host Tucker Carlson were potential witnesses.
Dominion sued the cable news network two years ago, after it aired stories falsely claiming that Dominion’s voting machines were susceptible to hacking and had flipped votes to Joseph R. Biden Jr. that had been cast for Donald J. Trump, who was president.
But the settlement with Dominion is not the only legal action that some news outlets are facing after making bogus claims about the 2020 elections.
Dominion v. Newsmax
In 2021, the right-wing news outlet Newsmax formally apologized for spreading false allegations that an employee of Dominion had rigged voting machines. In a statement on its website, Newsmax said it had found “no evidence” that the Dominion employee, Eric Coomer, had manipulated voting machines in an effort to sabotage Mr. Trump’s re-election bid.
“On behalf of Newsmax, we would like to apologize for any harm that our reporting of the allegations against Dr. Coomer may have caused to Dr. Coomer and his family,” the statement said.
Dominion also sued Mike Lindell, the chief executive of MyPillow and an outspoken supporter of the former president, and two of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Sidney Powell and Rudy W. Giuliani, for their baseless claims about election fraud. In 2021, a federal judge refused to throw out the suits against them. And in October, the Supreme Court declined to consider Mr. Lindell’s bid to fend off his suit. This month, he told The New York Times, “I will never back down, ever, ever, ever.” The lawsuits are ongoing.
Smartmatic v. Fox News
In 2021, Fox News was also sued by Smartmatic, which provided voting technology in Los Angeles County for the 2020 election. In its complaint, Smartmatic wrote, “Fox joined the conspiracy to defame and disparage Smartmatic and its election technology and software,” adding, “The story led a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol.” The suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, seeks at least $2.7 billion in damages.
In February, a New York appeals court denied Fox’s request to dismiss the case, and a New York judge said last month that the case could proceed. A trial date has not been set.
Smartmatic v. Newsmax
Smartmatic also brought defamation litigation against Newsmax, accusing it of spreading falsehoods about the company. Judge Eric M. Davis, who was also assigned to the Fox-Dominion trial, will preside. In February, Newsmax lost its bid to end the litigation, and Judge Davis let the case move forward.
Smartmatic v. One America News
In 2021, Smartmatic also sued One America News Network, accusing the news organization of airing disinformation about the 2020 election even after the company warned it to stop. In June, a judge denied a request to dismiss the lawsuit.
This month — days before jury selection began for the Dominion case — Fox News and Lou Dobbs, a former longtime Fox Business host and loyal Trump supporter, settled a defamation case with Majed Khalil, a Venezuelan businessman. Mr. Dobbs and Ms. Powell, a regular guest on Fox News, falsely claimed on the air and in related Twitter posts that Mr. Khalil had been part of a conspiracy to flip votes. One of the tweets said he was “the effective ‘COO’ of the election project.” Fox canceled Mr. Dobbs’s show in February 2021.
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