Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, alleging that the Fox Corporation-backed cable outlet made false claims about the company’s actions and influence on the 2020 presidential election. It is the second legal proceeding made against Fox News for its coverage of the aftermath of the 2020 race for the White House. Smartmatic, a voting technology company, has filed a massive $2.7 billion suit against Fox News, which has sought to have the matter dismissed.
“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 Media said in a statement Friday.
At issue in the suit, filed in the Superior Court of Delaware, is an allegation by Dominion that Fox News falsely claimed the company had rigged the election, repeated items about the matter and refused to engage as Dominion made efforts to set the record straight. The 2020 election was not rigged and its results were certified by multiple legal processes.
Dominion alleges Fox News Channel was eager to court conservative viewers who were outraged by the network’s call on Election Night that President Biden would be victorious in Arizona, an early prediction that, while correct, was not initially matched by other news outlets and came under criticism from former President Donald Trump. Reports that blamed Dominion and others for influencing the election results, the company, argues, served as a potential means of winning back those viewers’ favor. “Fox set out to lure viewers back—including President Trump himself—by intentionally and falsely blaming Dominion for President Trump’s loss by rigging the election,” Dominion alleges in its lawsuit.
The company cites appearances by Trump aides Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani on Fox News programs anchored by Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs, during which they made false claims about Dominion’s role in the election. “Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs repeatedly hosted Powell and Giuliani on their Fox programs where they also endorsed and repeated their guests’ lies about Dominion,” the suit alleges.
Dominion says in the suit that it emailed corrections and facts to “reporters and producers, including those who oversaw and managed content for Fox shows Lou Dobbs Tonight, Sunday Morning Futures, Mornings with Maria, Justice w/ Judge Jeanine, Hannity, and numerous other Fox shows.” An email was sent directly to Bartiromo as well, the company says, and the company also communicated with Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and President Jay Wallace.
Dominion alleges Fox News reports have hurt its reputation and put its employees at risk. “The disinformation campaign waged against our company has caused us severe damage and undermined trust in American democratic institutions,” said John Poulos, Dominion’s CEO, in a statement. “These lies also have threatened the personal safety of our employees and customers. No amount of money will repair the damage done.”
Damages sought in the case are significant, and other news companies have been hurt by defamation suits. Walt Disney’s ABC News in 2017 grappled with a $1.9 billion lawsuit from a South Dakota meat producer that alleged the news operation defamed Beef Products Inc. about the safety of low-cost processed beef trimmings referred to in a report as “pink slime.” Disney subsequently disclosed costs of $177 million related to the settlement of the case.
Shares of Fox Corp. declined in early Friday trading, down more than 6%, or $2.46 per share, to $37.84 on volume of 5.1 million shares.