Lawyer J. Erik Connolly accused Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch of having “ordered a hit” on Smartmatic at a hearing in its defamation case today.
Connolly’s comments were made at hearing in which Smartmatic argued that Fox Corp., the parent company of Fox News, should also be held liable for defaming the voting technology company with lies that it rigged the 2020 presidential election in favor of Joe Biden. Smartmatic is suing both companies, along with hosts Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo and former host Lou Dobbs, plus Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, for $2.7 billion.
As Insider explains, the Murdochs are in charge of Fox Corp. while Suzanne Scott and Jay Wallace are in charge of Fox News. Connolly argued that while the Murdochs may not have expressly ordered their network to smear Smartmatic, they were nonetheless responsible:
"I can think of an analogy like a mafia boss ordering one of his lieutenants, 'Take out Johnny Two-Bones. That's your instruction,'" J. Erik Connolly, who's representing Smartmatic in its $2.7 billion lawsuit, said in a downtown Manhattan courtroom.
"The mafia boss doesn't say, 'I want you to whack him on this day, I want you to use this tool, I want this henchman to do it.' The mafia boss doesn't give the direction of exactly how the henchman carries out that hit," he continued. "But, unquestionably, we would all say the mafia boss participated in the hit when the hit happened. Exact same thing happened here."
"Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch ordered a hit. They saw the ratings take a huge dive, they saw their stock price taking a dive. So Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch said, 'Oh, if we aren't embracing this disinformation, it's going to be a problem,'" Connolly said in court Wednesday.
"So they ordered their lieutenants, Suzanne Scott and Jay Wallace, 'You're taking out Smartmatic, you are embracing this disinformation about voting machines,'" he continued. "And lo and behold, that's exactly what happened."
Connolly said Smartmatic has “extensive emails” showing the Murdochs "set in motion" the defamatory interviews with Powell and Giuliani, according to Insider.
The judge has not yet ruled on the claims against Fox Corp.
If the case does not settle, Fox has said a trial will likely happen in 2025.