WASHINGTON – Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News on Friday, claiming the cable news network “broadcast a series of verifiably false yet devastating lies” implicating the election software company in an unfounded conspiracy to steal the presidential election.
Dominion asserts that Fox News intentionally aired false allegations that its software rigged the election against former President Donald Trump “because the lies were good for Fox’s business.” Dominion said the network was trying to lure back viewers who were angered when the network called the Nov. 3 election for Trump’s Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.
The company said the legal action follows repeated demands for retractions, adding that “Fox producers, content managers, and hosts were notified more than 30 times that their smears were not true.”
“The disinformation campaign waged against our company has caused us severe damage and undermined trust in American democratic institutions,” Dominion CEO John Poulos said. “These lies also have threatened the personal safety of our employees and customers. No amount of money will repair the damage done.”
Fox News issued a statement saying the network 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.”
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Trump began casting doubt on the integrity of the election months before the votes were counted, claiming the only way he could lose was if the election was “stolen.” After the results showed Trump had lost his reelection bid, the president and his supporters insisted, without evidence, that Trump’s prediction had come to pass and that he had been robbed of victory. Those claims fueled outrage among many voters who believed those claims, culminating with the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol that left five dead.
Dominion became the center of one election conspiracy theory that falsely claimed its voting machines and software employed an algorithm to flip votes from Trump to Biden. Those claims have been thoroughly debunked and election audits found no evidence to support the allegations.
Trump’s Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department found nothing to support claims of widespread voter fraud and the Department of Homeland Security found the election was “the most secure in American history.” State officials across the country, including Republican governors and secretaries of state similarly found no reason to question the vote count.
Yet, Trump and his supporters continued to cast doubt on the results, including figures such as attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, as well as My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, who falsely claimed Dominion had originally been founded to rig elections for former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
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Dominion claims that by allowing those unfounded accusations to be repeated on air, Fox News made the once obscure voting company “into a household name” whose employees faced harassment and threats as a result. The lawsuit says the claims broadcast on Fox News cause Dominion “irreparable economic harm.”
Dominion has filed similar lawsuits against Giuliani, Powell and Lindell. And the company’s attorneys faulted Fox News for giving them air time, even though they say the network knew the allegations were “ludicrous, inherently improbable, and technologically impossible.”
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Though the lawsuit names several Fox News and Fox Business hosts – including Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs whom the lawsuit says “repeated their guests lies about Dominion” – the voting company has not yet sued any on-air personalities directly.
“The buck stops with Fox on this,” Dominion attorney Stephen Shackelford told the AP. “Fox chose to put this on all of its many platforms. They rebroadcast, republished it on social media and other places.”
Contributing: The Associated Press