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The voting software company Smartmatic filed a massive $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, several of its anchors, and Donald Trump associates Rudy Giuluani and Sidney Powell on Thursday, according to the New York Times.
The company claims it was the victim of an extended smear campaign, as part of the Trump-supporting network’s efforts to delegitamize the results of the 2020 presidential election.
In addition to Giuliani and Powell, the suit filed in New York State Supreme Court names anchors Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro. Those three newscasters and their programs allowed Giuliani and Powell on to their shows in service of spreading conspiracy theories surrounding Smartmatic and the voting machine manufacturer Dominion. The company said in their suit that Fox News fabricated a villain out of whole cloth to avoid reckoning with the election results.
“They needed a villain,” the lawsuit reads. “They needed someone to blame. They needed someone whom they could get others to hate. A story of good versus evil, the type that would incite an angry mob, only works if the storyteller provides the audience with someone who personifies evil.”
Though Smartmatic only handled the voting software for machines in one county in the entire United States, the company’s name became a buzzword in their coverage of imagined election fraud. Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica said the association with impropriety could effectively ruin his business, which understandably depends on portraying integrity to its customers.
“We have no choice,” Mugica told CNN Business. “The disinformation campaign that was launched against us is an obliterating one. For us, this is existential, and we have to take action.”
As New York Times points out, Fox aired a segment on three of its shows featuring voting technology expert Eddie Perez debunking false claims about Smartmatic, including one on Lou Dobbs Tonight. Perez said the video “almost looked like a deposition.”
Fox News, Giuliani, and Powell all issued their own statements about the lawsuit, with the media organization standing behind its reporting and Giuliani doubling down on the idea that a conspiracy might be uncovered.
“FOX News Media is committed to providing the full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear opinion. We are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court,” Fox said.
“The Smartmatic lawsuit presents another golden opportunity for discovery. I look forward to litigating with them,” Giuliani commented.