The parent corporation of Fox News and Fox Business is facing another billion dollar defamation lawsuit, this time from Dominion Voting Systems, over the disinformation Fox spread in promoting the Big Lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election.
This suit comes less than two months after Smartmatic, another voting technology company, filed a $2.7+ billion defamation lawsuit against Fox, anchors Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro and the since-fired Lou Dobbs, along with frequent guests and allies, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani.
Fox almost certainly knew this suit was coming. Dominion has already filed billion dollar defamation suits against Powell, Giuliani and Mike Lindell, CEO of MyPillow, a major Fox advertiser. In February, Dominion lawyers wrote to Facebook, YouTube, Parler and Twitter asking them to preserve posts and data from Fox and other right-wing sites and personalities, as that material would be relevant to pending and forthcoming claims.
The New York Times has more:
Dominion, which was founded in 2002, is one of the largest manufacturers of voting machine equipment in the United States, and its machines were used by election authorities in at least 28 states last year, including several states carried by Mr. Trump.
Allies of Mr. Trump falsely portrayed the company as biased toward Mr. Biden and argued, without evidence, that it was tied to Hugo Chávez, the long-dead Venezuelan dictator. John Poulos, Dominion’s founder, and other employees received harassing and threatening messages from people convinced that the company had undermined the election results.
Fox News and Fox Business programs were among the mass-media venues where Mr. Trump’s supporters denounced Dominion. The lawsuit also cites examples where the Fox hosts, including Ms. Bartiromo and Ms. Dobbs, uncritically repeated or actively vouched for the false claims made by Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell.
The Dominion complaint couldn't be more damning
This is just the opening of the 443-page complaint that includes numerous footnotes and exhibits:
1. Fox, one of the most powerful media companies in the United States, gave life to a manufactured storyline about election fraud that cast a then-little-known voting machine company called Dominion as the villain. After the November 3, 2020 Presidential Election, viewers began fleeing Fox in favor of media outlets endorsing the lie that massive fraud caused President Trump to lose the election. They saw Fox as insufficiently supportive of President Trump, including because Fox was the first network to declare that President Trump lost Arizona. So Fox set out to lure viewers back—including President Trump himself—by intentionally and falsely blaming Dominion for President Trump’s loss by rigging the election.
3. Fox recklessly disregarded the truth. Indeed, Fox knew these statements about Dominion were lies. Specifically, Fox knew the vote tallies from Dominion machines could easily be confirmed by independent audits and hand recounts of paper ballots, as has been done repeatedly since the election. Fox also knew that these lies were being rebutted by an increasingly long list of bipartisan election officials, election security experts, judges, then-Attorney General Bill Barr, then-United States Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Chris Krebs, Election Assistance Commissioner Ben Hovland, Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Republican former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, to name a few—not to mention some within Fox itself.
4. Fox likewise knew there was no evidence whatsoever to support the Venezuela or “kickbacks” claims, the latter of which was obviously manufactured whole-cloth in an effort to discredit Republicans who undermined the false election-rigging claim by verifying the vote counts from Dominion machines. Yet even after Fox was put on specific written notice of the facts, it stuck to the inherently improbable and demonstrably false preconceived narrative and continued broadcasting the lies of facially unreliable sources—which were embraced by Fox’s own on-air personalities—because the lies were good for Fox’s business.
5. Fox took a small flame and turned it into a forest fire. As the dominant media company among those viewers dissatisfied with the election results, Fox gave these fictions a prominence they otherwise would never have achieved. With Fox’s global platform, an audience of hundreds of millions, and the inevitable and extensive republication and dissemination of the falsehoods through social media, these lies deeply damaged Dominion’s once-thriving business. Dominion is a voting machine company that was founded in 2002 in John Poulos’s basement. Poulos’s objective of accurate, transparent, and accessible elections motivated him to create Dominion. He went on to build what was, until recently, one of the fastest-growing technology companies in North America. While Dominion was known within the voting machine industry and supplied machines in 28 states, it was little known to the public at large.
6.These lies transformed Dominion into a household name. As a result of Fox’s orchestrated defamatory campaign, Dominion’s employees, from its software engineers to its founder and Chief Executive Officer, have been repeatedly harassed. Some have even received death threats. And of course, Dominion’s business has suffered enormous and irreparable economic harm.
7.The truth matters. Lies have consequences. 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.
Fox presented Big Lie disinformation about the election as truth and "news" to its viewers
Although Powell has ludicrously raised the “Tucker Carlson defense,” i.e. claiming that no reasonable person would have taken her seriously, it couldn’t be clearer that Fox presented her as a serious truth-teller. She presented herself that way, too. On November 15, 2020, e.g., Bartiromo announced she was about to provide, “breaking news from Sidney Powell” of voter fraud “evidence,” which Bartiromo subsequently described as “explosive.” From my post of that day:
[Bartiromo described Powell] as “leading the charge against Dominion” without mentioning that the charge has been debunked. “She says she has enough evidence of fraud to launch a massive criminal investigation,” Bartiromo added.
Powell claimed that Joe Biden’s presidential team will soon be “non-existent because we’re fixing to overturn the results of the election in multiple states and President Trump won by not just hundreds of thousands of votes but by millions of votes.”
No challenge from Bartiromo!
Powell yammered on, challenge free, with her accusations about the software, until she finally said, “We have evidence from 2016 in California. We have so much evidence, I feel like it’s coming in through a fire hose.”
“Wow!” exclaimed the enthusiastic host.
Fox News issued a statement this morning stating that it "is proud of our 2020 election coverage, which stands in the highest tradition of American journalism, and will vigorously defend against this baseless lawsuit in court."
Once you have stopped laughing at Fox's claim, you can watch Powell and Bartiromo present disinformation as serious and credible below, from the November 15, 2020 Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo, via Media Matters: