Fox News corporation is currently facing a major lawsuit for false reporting during the 2020 US elections by Smartmatic Corp. The 2020 elections sparked a heated competition between former US President Donald Trump and the winning candidate Joe Biden. The news reporting giant was accused of purporting falsehoods regarding the handling of the elections, especially how the voting system was being managed. The elections were marred by a lot of controversies related to cheating conspiracies and how certain politicians had planned to rig the polls. Smartmatic Corp is gunning for Fox New’s head after blaming the tech firm for misconduct during the voting process.
False reporting is a major crime that can tarnish one’s image, and it is usually done for selfish gains. During elections, media houses play a vital role in broadcasting the proceedings and announcing results to the public. Some politicians have been known to manipulate media houses to air out content that supports them or their ideologies. Fox News is one of the major corporations expected to deliver only ‘the gospel’ to people. It has acquired a lot of customers due to its ability to deliver all the news and reveal hidden information. But it is not unusual for such an established company to misfire sometimes.
With the conspiracy spiraling around the US 2020 elections, Fox News has found itself entangled in a web of false claims propagated amid the polls. In launching the lawsuit, Smartmatic Corp accused Fox News for suggesting that the tech firm was involved in a plot against Trump as a candidate and wanted him to lose the election. This theory was broadcasted by former Fox News anchor Lou Dobbs. During the elections, it was stated that Dobbs kept on throwing statements about voter fraud, and this idea was repeatedly chanted by the anchor. He claimed that new evidence supported the ‘voter fraud’ theory and called it “groundbreaking” information while on air.
This happened even after the US officials and other observers had ruled out any misconduct in the voting process, but Dobbs maintained his stance of citing how the acquired evidence would travel voter fraud during the elections. By uttering such statements, he offended Smartmatic Corp, a tech firm assigned to provide the voting technology utilized in those elections. The firm launched a lawsuit of $2,7 billion against Fox News for defamation [Source]. On Tuesday, a hearing of the matter was conducted in Manhattan, with Justice David Cohen being the presiding judge. The Fox News legal team were questioned in court about their coverage of false claims labeled against the voting technology firm.
Fox News attorney Paul Clement tried to distance the corporation’s views from Dobbs’s utterances by citing his statements belong to him. Clement said, “That is clearly his opinion,” and added that “It was widely shared opinion at the time.”
In their defense, attorney Clement noted how the remarks made by Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro are classified under “protected speech” constitutionally. The lawyers also explained that the reporters based their information on claims stated by Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Trump’s former campaign attorney Sidney Powell. It must be regarded as correct reporting since it was based on the beliefs of Trump’s associates. Both Powell and Giuliani are named in the lawsuit and are also being sued by Dominion Voting System Inc [Source]. Clement told the judge that Powell and Giuliani told everyone how they had “mountains of evidence – evidence coming out of a fire hose.”
The court is yet to hear the defendant’s side of the story and see the “mountains of evidence” they claimed to have. Smartmatic lawyer Erik Connolly argued how Fox’s reports sprouted from illegitimate sources who are Powell and Giuliani, and this kind of information is not protected. He said Fox network got involved in a “dance” with Trump’s people and broadcast false claims. He also dismissed Clement’s defense, saying that Dobbs spoke his ‘own truth’ based on opinions, so it was not fact-based reporting. He contented how both Fox and Dobbs “present that show as a news program.”
He explained that “Mr. Dobbs did everything he could to reinforce the notion that he and his guests were providing concrete facts to the audience members, and they were facts that other news networks weren’t telling them or the government wasn’t paying attention to,” [Source].
Dobbs’s show was canceled by Fox earlier this year under a restructuring phase said to be taking place at the network. The allegations by Trump of rigging the elections fuelled Capitol riots which caused havoc in the city, and government officials were hunted in the process. Fox faced a similar lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems Inc and pursued to dismiss it.