Fox News (NBC) (02/05/21)— Smartmatic, an international elections equipment company, has sued Fox News for more than $2.7 billion over false reports it was part of a conspiracy to steal the 2020 election.
“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 CEO Antonio Mugica said in a statement on the company’s website posted Tuesday.
The suit names Fox News; network personalities Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro; and Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, the legal associates of former President Donald Trump, as defendants. It lays out 13 separate instances in which a Fox News personality or guest claimed that Smartmatic was used to rig the 2020 election.
“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,” a Fox spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
Smartmatic largely sells its equipment and services in Europe, as well as Zambia, Argentina and the Philippines. A company spokesperson, Samira Saba, said in an email that the only area in the U.S. that has hired Smartmatic for general election services since 2016 is Los Angeles County.
Nevertheless, the company became inexplicably part of a sprawling conspiracy theory, often repeated on Fox, that claimed the election was fraudulent. At times, it involved Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his deceased predecessor, Hugo Chavez, and meritless claims that Smartmatic machines could be hacked to secretly change U.S. voters’ choices.
A joint statement from the head election officials in each state, as well as the federal officials who oversaw election cybersecurity, said that the 2020 election’s safeguards made it “the most secure in American history,” and a coalition of the country’s top cybersecurity experts wrote that they found “no credible evidence of computer fraud.”
Smartmatic pulled few punches in framing its case as a basic defense of reality that was under attack from an unhinged disinformation campaign.
“The Earth is round. Two plus two equals four. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the 2020 election for President and Vice President of the United States. The election was not stolen, rigged, or fixed. These are facts,” the lawsuit said.
“Without any true villain, Defendants invented one,” it continued. “In their story, Smartmatic was a Venezuelan company under the control of corrupt dictators from socialist countries.”
The lawsuit marks the third time since the election that a voting company has filed a defamation lawsuit over the conspiracy theories shared on right-wing media that falsely denied President Joe Biden had won the 2020 election. Dominion Voting Systems, which provides equipment in 26 states, has so far sued Giuliani and Powell for more than $1.3 billion each. In a press conference in January, Tom Clare, an attorney for Dominion, said the company planned additional suits.