Fox News has asked a Delaware court to dismiss a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought against it by Dominion Voting Systems over the network’s coverage of the 2020 vote count, arguing it “threatens to stifle the media’s free-speech right to inform the public about newsworthy allegations of paramount public concern.”
Dominion filed its suit in March saying that Fox News personalities spread lies on air about its voting machines and software that “recklessly disregarded the truth” and resulted in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
In its filing to dismiss the suit on Tuesday, Fox News said it was within the bounds of the First Amendment to air the claims about Dominion and that the company has failed to back up its allegations of “actual malice.”
“The news media has the right in a democracy to inform citizens by reporting and commenting on a President’s allegations challenging the security of our elections,” court documents state.
The conservative cable news outlet also alleges it “truthfully” sought to present the public with both sides of the legal dispute led by former President Donald Trump and his legal team, as it contested the outcome of the election. “Fox hosts responsibly covered the controversy, repeatedly pressing the President’s attorneys, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, for evidence substantiating their allegations,” the network stated, noting that Dominion agreed to appear on air to dispute the claims.
The 61-page document cites an earlier court case against Dominion that is still pending, in which some Georgia voters alleged the company’s voting machines produce “unaccountable, unverifying” results. “Fox hosts did not create allegations against Dominion, which predate the November 2020 election,” the filing says.
The Dominion suit is not the only one Fox faces over the bogus election fraud claims it promoted. Voting machine maker Smartmatic has also taken legal action against Fox News, which it has also tried to dismiss.
Shortly after Smartmatic’s $2.7 billion lawsuit was filed, Fox abruptly canceled longtime host Lou Dobb’s show on Fox Business, where Dobbs provided a receptive environment for election-related conspiracy theories.
As recently as April 27, the network offered a similar legal argument to have the case quashed. It has argued the coverage is protected under the First Amendment and that Smartmatic has been unable to prove actual malice.
Smartmatic and a Dominion employee who was forced into hiding due to conspiracy theories have also sued smaller pro-Trump media outlets and members of Trump’s legal team at the time for spreading what they say are false claims about the election.
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