Fox News files a motion to dismiss Smartmatic defamation suit

Fox News headquarters in New York City.
(Drew Angerer / Getty Images)
Share via

Fox News has filed a motion to dismiss the $2.7-billion defamation lawsuit by Smartmatic, saying the claims made against the voting software company were newsworthy and protected by the 1st Amendment — even if they were false.

The motion filed late Monday is in response to Smartmatic’s suit claiming that Fox News and its on-air hosts Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro presented unfounded charges of voter fraud on their programs, resulting in damage to Smartmatic’s business and reputation. President Trump’s lawyers Rudolph Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who appeared on the programs and presented many of the charges that were not substantiated by evidence or were rejected in court, are also named in the suit.

“Fox had a right to cover, that the president and his allies were accusing Smartmatic (and others) of manipulating the election results, regardless of the ultimate truth or accuracy of those allegations,” the motion states.


Giuliani and Powell were repeatedly asked by Fox News hosts to provide proof of their allegations, according to the motion. The network also ran denials by Smartmatic and reports that disputed the lawyers’ comments that pushed the narrative of how voter fraud resulted in Trump’s loss to President Biden.

The company says the network’s reports on false voting fraud charges have damaged its reputation and business.

Feb. 4, 2021

“While many doubted those claims, no one doubted their newsworthiness,” the motion said. “An attempt by a sitting President to challenge the result of an election is objectively newsworthy. Media outlets around the country and the world thus provided extensive coverage of, and commentary on, the President’s allegations and the associated lawsuits.”

Lou Dobbs made his final appearance Thursday as host of "Lou Dobbs Tonight."
Lou Dobbs made his final appearance Thursday as host of “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”
(Steven Ferdman / Getty Images)

While the motion indicates Fox News’ intention to mount a defense against the Smartmatic suit, the company canceled “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” one of the programs on which Giuliani and Powell made many of their baseless claims of voter fraud. Dobbs, whose nightly program had the largest audience on Fox Business Network, is still under contract with the network, although he is not expected to be back on the air.

Fox Business Network announced Monday that Larry Kudlow, a former Trump economic adviser and longtime host for CNBC, will join the business channel’s lineup next week.

There are no signs that Fox News will pull the plug on the programs hosted by Bartiromo or Pirro.


Bartiromo is considered a leading candidate to take over the 7 p.m. ET slot on Fox News. She appeared as one of the rotating hosts on “Fox News Primetime,” an opinion show that is currently running in that hour.