A spokesperson for Fox News Media insisted the suit was "baseless" and said the company "is proud of our 2020 election coverage, which stands in the highest tradition of American journalism"

By Sean Neumann
March 26, 2021 04:21 PM
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Dominon voting
Dominion voting equipment
| Credit: John Bazemore/AP/Shutterstock

Fox News is the latest and most prominent defendant in a string of defamation lawsuits by Dominion Voting Systems over false claims made about them in connection with the 2020 election.

The voting equipment company — which found itself the target of conspiracies of widespread election fraud and other wrongdoing — has sued multiple Donald Trump's allies in recent months for repeating lies about them.

Among those statements were unfounded allegations that Dominion manipulated vote totals and had ties to the regime of late Venezuelan authoritarian Hugo Chavez. Actually, for example, the company was founded in Toronto and is now based in Denver.

On Thursday, Dominion sued Fox News Media in Delaware for $1.6 billion, according to a copy of the complaint shared with the press. 

The suit singled out some of the company's most prominent conservative hosts such as Maria Bartiromo; Tucker Carlson; Lou Dobbs, who subsequently left Fox Business; Sean Hannity; and Jeanine Pirro. 

The new lawsuit chronologically documents what Dominion says was the hosts' knowing and reckless disregard of the truth about the company — often by giving airtime to figures like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who lied about Dominion — and Fox News' publication or broadcast of those comments across its platforms.

The suit dismisses such statements as "inherently improbable, and technologically impossible" and argued that Fox News adopted an anti-Dominion stance to please Trump and his supporters.

"Lies have consequences," the complaint states. "Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process."

In a brief statement, a Fox News Media spokesperson said the suit was "baseless."

"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," the spokesperson said.

Fox News has long taken pains, publicly and privately, to note that its news division operate separately from its right-wing opinion hosts. Indeed, Fox News reporter Eric Shawn interviewed a Dominion spokesman in late November who rebutted many of the false claims about the company.

Stephen Shackelford, a lawyer representing Dominion, said in a statement that "to serve its own commercial purposes, Fox News fanned the flames of conspiracy theories, taking a small flame and helping turn it into a raging fire."

Dominion voting
Dominion Voting Systems
| Credit: Ben Gray/AP/Shutterstock

Dominion previously sued Trump's former lawyers Giuliani and Powell, as well as Trump's friend Mike Lindell for defamation — seeking more than $1 billion in damages from each — over their statements about the company.

The wild allegations about Dominion, which the company has moved more and more aggressively to combat since last year, were part of a slew of misinformation about the election that Trump pushed in the aftermath of his loss to Joe Biden

The Trump campaign's legal efforts to overturn the election were almost entirely rejected by courts around the country, including the Supreme Court in December. 

Likewise, numerous local elections officials, including Republicans, said there was no evidence of widespread fraud or other irregularities.

The Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said the 2020 election was "the most secure in American history."

Former Attorney General William Barr, a staunch Trump ally, was among those to determine there was no widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Dominion alleged in its latest suit that Fox News' coverage of the conspiratorial claims had financially damaged the company, tarnishing its reputation among the network's viewers.

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Donald Trump
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Similar to its previous complaints against Giuliani and others, Dominion said the conspiracy theories led to harassment and death threats against its employees.

"Dominion brings this lawsuit to set the record straight, to vindicate its rights, and to recover damages for the devastating economic harm done to its business," the complaint states.

John Poulos, the company's CEO, said in a statement that the "disinformation campaign" not only "caused us severe damage" but it "undermined trust in American democratic institutions."

"No amount of money will repair the damage done," Poulos said.

In previous comments, both Giuliani and Lindell welcomed the lawsuits against them as opportunities for fact-finding. Giuliani also called it "another act of intimidation by the hate-filled left-wing to wipe out and censor the exercise of free speech." 

Earlier this month, Powell sought to have the suit against her dismissed and argued that "no reasonable person" would believe what she said about Dominion was a statement of fact.