Fox asks court to drop Smartmatic lawsuit, saying allegations were newsworthy

Fox Corporation is asking the New York State Court to drop a $ 2.7 billion defamation lawsuit filed against it by voting firm Smartmatic, saying its post-November 3 election broadcasts were the first amendment to the Constitution. protects.

Smartmatic, a supplier of voting systems used in Los Angeles County, filed its lawsuit on Thursday, alleging that Fox News, a subsidiary of Fox Corporation, had spread the lies of then-President Donald Trump about the election, including conspiracy theories over his voting machines. in order to make a profit and be kind to Trump.

The vice presidents have wrongly claimed that Smartmatic machines were used to steal votes for Trump and set them off against President Joe Biden as part of a multi-year conspiracy, including outrageous theories about sending votes abroad.

In a late Monday response, Fox responded that Trump’s efforts to overthrow the election results were “objectively newsworthy” and that Fox had acted as a news reporter by allowing the then president’s attorneys and deputies to pursue their case. television.

The lawsuit was filed in the Manhattan Supreme Court, a court-level state court.

“This lawsuit is at the heart of the media’s first mission of modification to provide information on issues of public interest,” Fox attorney Paul Clement wrote in a case file related to the 1964 landmark press of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan. freedom case.

“In short, Fox did exactly what the First Amendment protects: It provided public access to journalists and indisputably newsworthy information that fosters an‘ unbridled, robust, and wide-ranging open debate about rapidly evolving, unparalleled events, ’” Clement wrote.

Clement, who served as a lawyer for three years under President George W. Bush and is currently a partner at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, is one of the best-known attorneys in the country.

Image of the logo of the company Smartmatic, which supplies Venezuela’s voting technology, on a sliding door in the company’s Karacas headquarters.

Ronaldo Schemidt | AFP | Getty Images

In the Smartmatic lawsuit, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell were named three Fox Corporation, Fox News, Fox presidents and attorneys. Clement argued that Fox and his hosts, Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, could not be held accountable, although he left the door open against Giuliani and Powell.

Fox Business Network Dobbs’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight” was canceled a day after Smartmatic filed its lawsuit.

“If these deputies told fictitious evidence or actual malicious facts, they could be subjected to defamatory action, but not to the media, which made their allegations known and allowed them to try to substantiate them,” Kelemen wrote.

Fox’s argument raises a completely different narrative than Smartmatic, which in its own submission alleges that Fox’s hosts were part of a “conspiracy to humiliate and despise Smartmatic”.

Smartmatic argued that Fox and its hosts teamed up with Giuliani and Powell to spread lies about the election in order to “regain its preferred status alongside President Trump and his followers.”

Fox’s response lists a number of allegations that he believes his hosts are investigating Giuliani’s and Powell’s allegations.

For example, according to the submission, in his Nov. 15 show, Bartiromo asked Powell, “Sidney, you feel you can prove it.[?] … How are you going to prove that, Sidney? Do you think you can prove this in court? “

The petition also raises the argument that Smartmatic is “obviously a public figure here”. If the court accepts this argument and agrees that Smartmatic qualifies as a public actor, it would make it easier for Fox to dismiss the case. In a footnote, Clement also argues that the case against Fox Corporation should be dismissed only because Smartmatic could not prove that the company was “in any direct relationship or controlling the performers and statements in question.”

Fox News Media said the company had set out to dismiss the lawsuit “because it was unworthy.”

“If the first amendment means anything, it means that Fox cannot be held accountable for fairly reporting and commenting on competing allegations in a heated and actively litigious election,” the company said. “We are proud of our election reporting in line with the highest traditions of American journalism.”

Mr Erik Connolly, a lawyer for Smartmatic, said in a statement that the company was “confident in its case and looked forward to bringing these issues to court”.

The lawsuit against Fox is one of a number of defamation cases that have been launched following Trump’s allegation to undermine and reverse Biden’s victory.

Dominion Voting Systems, another manufacturer of voting machines targeted by conspiracy theories supporting Trump, has filed a lawsuit against Powell and Giuliani. The company has warned the media, including Fox, Newsmax, the One America News Network and the Epoch Times, that they could be sued.

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