Judge Rules Against Fox News Attempt To Squash $2.7B Defamation Lawsuit

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A New York judge has allowed a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit targeting Fox News and others over election lies to move forward against the network and a couple of its longtime hosts, although one — Lou Dobbs — had his show publicly cancelled by Fox around the time of the initial lawsuit in this case. The matter was brought by Smartmatic, an elections technology company that, alongside Dominion Voting Systems, has been a subject of numerous pro-Trump conspiracy theories about supposed systematic election fraud that former President Trump and certain allies of his claim was responsible for Biden’s win. Justice David B. Cohen of New York’s State Supreme Court in Manhattan did, however, dismiss claims from Smartmatic against Fox host Jeanine Pirro and Sidney Powell, the pro-Trump attorney — who has appeared on Fox.

In Pirro’s case, Cohen concluded that she hadn’t specifically singled out Smartmatic while spreading conspiracy theories related to the election. But as for Fox News overall, Cohen found the case to be apparently clearly established at this stage of the litigation. As the judge explained it, “[At] a minimum, Fox News turned a blind eye to a litany of outrageous claims about plaintiffs, unprecedented in the history of American elections, so inherently improbable that it evinced a reckless disregard for the truth… At this nascent stage of the litigation, this court finds that plaintiffs have pleaded facts sufficient to allow a jury to infer that Fox News acted with actual malice.” The other Fox host (besides Dobbs) who was left facing Smartmatic’s defamation claims is Maria Bartiromo. Rudy Giuliani had also been named by Smartmatic as a defendant in their lawsuit, and Cohen dismissed most of the case against him — but he found “substantial” evidence that Giuliani “acted with actual malice insofar as he evinced a reckless disregard for the truth” and allowed Smartmatic to attempt another claim against him.

Fox, for their part, said they’d appeal Cohen’s ruling. The network has also been sued — as have others in the right-wing echo chambers in which they operate — by Dominion Voting Systems. Even after all this time, with no real-world evidence having ever emerged that the last presidential election was somehow stolen for Biden, the former president and certain confidantes of his such as MyPillow founder and CEO Mike Lindell have refused to admit that the election wasn’t rigged. Now, the House committee investigating the Capitol riot has outlined how they believe Trump to possibly be guilty of criminal offenses including obstruction of an official proceeding, pointing to the fact that he ignored evidence of the election’s integrity while pushing to undo the outcome. Ignoring that evidence suggests corrupt intent. The panel could eventually approve criminal referrals recommending prosecution of Trump and others over these offenses. (The proceeding he was targeting was the joint Congressional session to certify the election outcome.)