Fox News is now facing a total of some $4.3 billion worth of defamation litigation connected to their post-election propagation of the lie that the 2020 presidential election outcome was dubious. Following an earlier $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit from Smartmatic, a voting technology company, Dominion Voting Systems — another voting technology company, which was used in the U.S. much more widely than Smartmatic during the 2020 cycle — has filed a $1.6 billion defamation claim against Fox. Both Smartmatic and Dominion figured into deranged conspiracy theories that Trump allies spread after the election — including on Fox.
In short, pro-Trump conspiracists claimed that tech involved in the electoral process had been manipulated in order to ensure a Biden victory. No meaningful evidence of this claim ever emerged anywhere in the country, and no court anywhere in the entire nation ever even partially accepted the idea. Nevertheless, to this day, Trump allies like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell — who are also facing defamation lawsuits from Dominion — are sticking to the false idea that the presidential election outcome was dubious.
As summarized by The Washington Post, Dominion alleges in its new lawsuit that Fox “purposefully aired false claims about the company’s role in the 2020 presidential election in order to boost ratings.” Claims about Dominion that spread in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential race included the utterly bonkers idea that their tech had origins in an election-rigging scheme kickstarted by the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, who died over seven years ago at this point.
‘Fox engaged in this knowing and reckless propagation of these enormous falsehoods in order to profit off these lies. Fox wanted to continue to protect its broadcast ratings, catering to an audience deeply loyal to President Trump.’
Fox responded to the case by insisting that they “will vigorously defend against this baseless lawsuit in court.” The lawsuit is not baseless — the broadcasts from Fox containing Dominion-related lies weren’t exactly a secret! As Dominion noted, hosts including Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs (the latter of whom got his show cancelled after the Smartmatic lawsuit) “endorsed and repeated” the election lies. In the wake of the propagation, aided by Fox, of false election-related claims against Dominion, people associated with the company have faced death threats and incidents of stalking. These issues — and the connection to the rhetoric spread on Fox — are serious.
Dominion repeatedly got in touch with Fox journalists in an attempt to correct the claims, but they were repeatedly ignored, the company added in their lawsuit. The rigged election lies from Trump and others drove the Capitol rioters back in January, but some Republicans have nevertheless refused to back down.
There are other serious real-world consequences of the rigged election lies. In states around the country, Republican legislators have used alleged issues with the recent election cycle as an excuse for pushing legislation that restricts access to voting in the name of so-called security. In reality, the measures make it more difficult for marginalized communities to cast their ballots — and often, some of these same marginalized communities vote against Republicans.