Voting technology company, Smartmatic, swept up in baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, filed a gargantuan $2.7 billion lawsuit on Thursday against Fox News, several of the network’s most prominent commentators, and pro-Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, alleging the parties worked in concert to wage a “disinformation campaign” that has jeopardized its very survival.
The lawsuit, filed in New York state court, accused Fox, Giuliani, Powell and hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro of intentionally lying about Smartmatic in an effort to mislead the public into the false belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from disgraced President Donald Trump.
Smartmatic says millions of people believed the negative and false coverage about the company, resulting in a cascade of fallout. The voting company’s employees received death threats, clients began to be nervous about doing business with the tech firm, and even the 14-year-old son of one of its executives received a harassing phone call. These allegations and many more that led to the decimation of the company’s business are outlined in a 300-page lawsuit filed against Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corp., in New York State Supreme Court.
“Fox is responsible for this disinformation campaign, which has damaged democracy worldwide and irreparably harmed Smartmatic and other stakeholders who contribute to modern elections,” Smartmatic chief executive Antonio Mugica said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “Without any true villain” in Trump’s election loss, the company says in its complaint, “Defendants invented one.” The unfounded and completely false story is one out of a spy novel, as Smartmatic outlined in its complaint:
In their story, Smartmatic was a Venezuelan company under the control of corrupt dictators from socialist countries. In their story, Smartmatic’s election technology and software were used in many of the states with close outcomes. And, in their story, Smartmatic was responsible for stealing the 2020 election by switching and altering votes to rig the election for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
This lawsuit should not have blindsided Fox News. Smartmatic demanded retractions of the propaganda networks lies in late 2020. In late December, Fox News and the Fox Business Network aired segments that were seen as attempts to appease Smartmatic, after weeks in which the networks had spread false claims that the election was somehow rigged. Those segments, which aired on some of Fox’s flagship shows, essentially rebutted the networks’ own coverage of Smartmatic, although they never mentioned Fox or what they were contradicting. Fox has pointed to them as “fact-checking” segments. But a two-and-a-half-minute fact check was not enough to counter over a month of inflammatory and baseless claims.