Fox News has asked a court in New York to dismiss a lawsuit filed by electronic voting company Smartmatic, arguing that the company is seeking to stifle “debate and chill vital First Amendment activities.”
The news broadcaster on Monday filed a request to dismiss the defamation lawsuit arguing that Smartmatic’s case is “meritless.” The filing contends that Fox News had fulfilled its commitment to “inform fully and comment fairly” on the newsworthy topic of election challenges brought by former President Donald Trump.
“Fox did exactly what the First Amendment protects: It ensured the public had access to newsmakers and unquestionably newsworthy information that would help foster ‘uninhibited, robust, and wide-open’ debate on rapidly developing events of unparalleled importance,” the motion said.
Last week, Smartmatic sued Fox News Media, attorney Sidney Powell, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and others alleging that they “engaged in a conspiracy to spread disinformation about Smartmatic” following the 2020 presidential election.
The voting machine company is demanding at least $2.7 billion in damages for injuries caused by what they say was a “disinformation campaign” against the company. The firm alleges that the defendants made false claims about the company’s role in the 2020 election, the nature of the company, and its connection with Venezuela.
Kirkland & Ellis attorney Paul Clement, who is representing Fox News, said the case “strikes at the heart of the First Amendment.”
“Smartmatic’s theory is fundamentally incompatible with the reality of the modern news network and deeply rooted principles of free speech law,” Clement said in a statement.
In its motion, Fox News argued that Smartmatic did not identify any statement that the news broadcaster had made that is defamatory and failed to show that it had published statements about Smartmatic “with actual malice.”
A public-figure plaintiff must show that a defamatory statement was made with “actual malice,” meaning that it was made “with the knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.” Fox News is arguing that Smartmatic is a “public figure.”
“If the First Amendment means anything, it means that Fox cannot be held liable for fairly reporting and commenting on competing allegations in a hotly contested and actively litigated election. We are proud of our election coverage which stands in the highest tradition of American journalism,” Fox News Media said in an emailed statement to The Epoch Times.
In December, Fox News aired several segments challenging and exploring the claims made in previous reports after Smartmatic alleged the reports contained “false and defamatory statements” and threatened litigation. The segments were shown across shows on the Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and invited Eddie Perez, an expert from the independent Open Source Election Technology Institute, to address several of the claims.
Perez told the hosts that he had not seen any evidence that Smartmatic software was used to flip votes anywhere in the United States in the November election.
Smartmatic did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment on the motion.
The voting machine company said that during the 2020 election, it had provided election technology manufacturing, systems integration, software development, and logistics to only Los Angeles County, California.
The company filed their complaint in a New York State court in Manhattan.