Fox News Files Motion to Dismiss Smartmatic’s $2.7 Billion Defamation Lawsuit

“Smartmatic’s theory is fundamentally incompatible with the reality of the modern news network and deeply rooted principles of free speech law,” the network says

Last Updated: February 8, 2021 @ 7:46 PM

Fox News Media on Monday filed a motion to dismiss the $2.7 billion lawsuit filed by the voting machine company Smartmatic, calling the lawsuit “meritless.”

In its response, Fox News says that Smartmatic has failed to identify any statement by Fox itself that is actionable as defamation. The network also says the lawsuit fails to allege that Fox published the “challenged statements with actual malice — knowing or reckless disregard of the truth.”

“When a sitting President and his surrogates claim an election was rigged, the public has a right to know what they are claiming, full stop,” Fox News says in its motion to dismiss. “When a sitting President and his surrogates bring lawsuits challenging election results, the public has a right to know the substance of their claims and what evidence backs them up, full stop. In that context, interviewing lawyers advocating for the President is fully protected First Amendment activity, whether those lawyers can eventually substantiate their claims or not.”

A rep for Fox News Media said in a statement, “FOX News has moved to dismiss the Smartmatic lawsuit because it is meritless. If the First Amendment means anything, it means that Fox cannot be held liable for fairly reporting and commenting on competing allegations in a hotly contested and actively litigated election. We are proud of our election coverage which stands in the highest tradition of American journalism.”

Attorney Paul Clement, who filed the motion on behalf of Fox News, said, “This suit strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. Smartmatic’s theory is fundamentally incompatible with the reality of the modern news network and deeply rooted principles of free speech law.”

In the lawsuit filed earlier this month in New York State Supreme Court, Smartmatic accuses the network and others of waging a “disinformation campaign” about the company’s operations during the 2020 presidential election that was damaging to its reputation.

The suit, which names Fox News on-air presenters Lou Dobbs (who has since left the network), Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro as defendants, accuses the network and its talent of creating a false narrative about the company to bolster their baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

In December 2020, Smartmatic announced it was seeking retractions from Fox News, Newsmax and One America News Network over their coverage of Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud many of which referenced companies like Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems — which has also pursued legal action against right-wing media outlets and personalities.

Later in December, Fox Business Network ran a fact-checking segment on “Lou Dobbs Tonight” that was rebroadcasted on Fox News Channel’s “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” hosted by Pirro, and “Sunday Morning Futures,” hosted by Bartiromo, through the weekend.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.