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Dominion Voting sues Fox News for $1.6 billion over false 2020 election claims

Fox News host Maria Bartiromo.
Fox News host Maria Bartiromo. The network said Friday it stands by its election reporting.
(Roy Rochlin / Getty Images)

Dominion Voting Systems on Friday filed a $1.6-billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, alleging that the cable news giant tried to shore up its flagging ratings by falsely claiming that Dominion had rigged the 2020 election.

It’s the first defamation suit filed against a media outlet by the voting company, which was the target of misleading, false and bizarre claims spread by former President Trump and his allies in the aftermath of Trump’s election loss to President Biden. Those claims helped spur rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, which left five people dead and led to Trump’s historic second impeachment.

In the lawsuit, Dominion argues that Fox News, which amplified inaccurate assertions that Dominion altered votes, “sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process,” according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by the Associated Press.

“The truth matters. Lies have consequences,” the lawsuit said. “If this case does not rise to the level of defamation by a broadcaster, then nothing does.”

Some Fox News on-air reporting segments have debunked some of the claims targeting Dominion. The network said Friday it stands by its reporting.

“Fox News Media 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,” Fox News said in a statement.

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There was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election, a fact that a range of election officials across the country — and even Trump’s attorney general, William Barr — have confirmed. Republican governors in Arizona and Georgia, key battleground states crucial to Biden’s victory, also vouched for the integrity of the elections in their states. Nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies were dismissed by judges, including two tossed out by the Supreme Court, which has three Trump-nominated justices.

Former President Trump says those who stormed the Capitol posed ‘zero threat’ to lawmakers who were hustled to safety as rioters overran the building.

Still, some Fox News employees elevated false claims that Dominion had changed votes through algorithms in voting machines created in Venezuela to rig elections for the late dictator Hugo Chavez. On-air personalities brought on Trump allies Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani, who spread the claims, and then amplified those claims on Fox News’ massive social media platforms.

Dominion said in the lawsuit that it tried repeatedly to set the record straight but was ignored by Fox News.

The company argues that Fox News, a network that features several pro-Trump personalities, pushed the false claims to explain away the former president’s election loss. The cable giant lost viewers after the election and was seen by some Trump supporters as not being supportive enough of Trump.

Attorneys for Dominion said Fox News’ behavior differs greatly from that of other media outlets that reported on the claims.

“This was a conscious, knowing business decision to endorse and repeat and broadcast these lies in order to keep its viewership,” attorney Justin Nelson said.

A Dominion Voting Systems worker driven into hiding by death threats has filed a defamation lawsuit against President Trump’s campaign.

Although Dominion serves 28 states, until the 2020 election it had been largely unknown outside election-organizing circles. It is now widely targeted by conservatives and seen by millions of people as one of the main villains in a baseless narrative in which Democrats nationwide conspired to steal votes from Trump, the lawsuit said.

Dominion’s employees, from its software engineers to its founder, have been harassed. Some received death threats. And the company has suffered “enormous and irreparable economic harm,” lawyers said.

Dominion has also sued Giuliani, Powell and the CEO of Minnesota-based MyPillow over the claims.

A rival technology company, Smartmatic USA, also sued Fox News over election claims. Unlike Dominion’s, Smartmatic’s participation in the 2020 election was restricted to Los Angeles County.

Dominion lawyers said that they have not yet filed lawsuits against specific media personalities at Fox News but that the door remains open. Some at Fox News knew the claims were false, but their comments were drowned out, lawyers said.

“The buck stops with Fox on this,” attorney Stephen Shackelford said. “Fox chose to put this on all of its many platforms. They rebroadcast, republished it on social media and other places.”

The suit was filed in Delaware, where both companies are incorporated, though Fox News is headquartered in New York and Dominion is based in Denver.


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