Dominion Voting Systems, an election technology company that Rudy Giuliani and others aligned with former President Donald Trump falsely alleged played a hand in changing the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, filed a lawsuit against Fox News on Friday for its coverage and dissemination of those conspiracy theories.
Fox News guests and hosts engaged in the spreading of false information about the election, including suggesting that Dominion voting machines were made in Venezuela in order to manipulate votes to help then-candidate Joe Biden win the race, the lawsuit alleges. Such claims have no basis in reality, and there is no evidence whatsoever that Dominion played a role in altering vote totals.
The company is suing Fox News for a total of $1.6 billion in damages, alleging that the claims made on its program and by its on-air personalities amounted to defamation against Dominion, resulting in significant financial harm to them.
“Fox engaged in this knowing and reckless propagation of these enormous falsehoods in order to profit off these lies,” the lawsuit states. “Fox wanted to continue to protect its broadcast ratings, catering to an audience deeply loyal to President Trump.”
Dominion claims that Fox News attempted to rectify ratings plunges that had occurred after the election by engaging in dissemination of knowingly false information. The lawsuit states that:
Fox, through its most prominent on-air personalities, cynically exploited these lies to lure viewers back. For example, from November 8-12, 2020, Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs repeatedly hosted [Trump-aligned lawyer Sidney] Powell and [Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudy] Giuliani on their Fox programs where they also endorsed and repeated their guests’ lies about Dominion. (emphasis added)
“The truth matters. Lies have consequences,” the lawsuit from Dominion goes on to say. “Fox 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.”
Dominion is the second election technology company to file a lawsuit against Fox over its spreading of false conspiracy theories in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Smartmatic also sued Fox for $2.7 billion in February, making similar allegations.
Fox has not yet filed a legal response to Dominion, but it has responded to the Smartmatic suit, stating that, “The public had a right to know, and Fox had a right to cover, that the president and his allies were accusing Smartmatic (and others) of manipulating the election results, regardless of the ultimate truth or accuracy of those allegations.”
Such claims may not be enough to mount a proper legal defense, however, Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe opined on Twitter this morning.
“Fox News will no doubt claim the 1st Amendment gives it an impenetrable shield against liability for defaming Dominion with claims it had to know were fake,” Tribe tweeted. “But that shield isn’t as absolute as Fox might wish. This will be an important case to watch.”