Fox News anchors cannot hide behind the First Amendment after helping Donald Trump and his allies spread election lies, according to a new court motion brought by voting technology company Smartmatic. The company filed a 120-page motion asking a New York state court to reject the conservative network’s attempt to dismiss a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit by claiming its coverage was protected speech, arguing those protections should not apply because anchors knew election fraud claims were untrue.
Smartmatic’s attorney J. Erik Connolly accused Fox News anchors, including Maria Bartiromo, Jeannine Pirro, and Lou Dobbs of inviting Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell onto their programs and asking questions intended to promote the former president’s claims of election fraud.
“This is not a game. The First Amendment does not provide the Fox Defendants a Get Out Of Jail Free card,” the motion argues. “The Fox Defendants do not get a do-over with their reporting now that they have been sued.”
“The Fox anchors were not innocent bystanders and the disinformation generated during their interviews was no accident,” the motion continues. “Prior to the interviews, the Fox anchors decided to join forces with Giuliani and Powell to disseminate disinformation about Smartmatic. The Fox anchors knew what Giuliani and Powell would say on their shows, asked questions to elicit lies about Smartmatic, and endorsed Giuliani’s and Powell’s investigation. The Fox anchors added their own defamatory comments about Smartmatic for good measure. This was a scripted performance by the Fox anchors, Giuliani, and Powell to defame and disparage Smartmatic for personal gain.”
Smartmatic responds to Fox in new brief: "This is not a game. The First Amendment does not provide the Fox Defendants a Get Out Of Jail Free card. The Fox Defendants do not get a do-over with their reporting now that they have been sued." https://t.co/ZF8o6z0XvL pic.twitter.com/1YsWCiutt8
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) April 13, 2021
The revolving door over at Fox News has been turning a lot in the wake of Trump’s January departure from the White House.
Fox News' top lawyer for the past three years, Lily Fu Claffee, is leaving while the network is facing huge defamation suits from Dominion and Smartmatic. Her successor brings experience from Google and Oprah's production co. https://t.co/AyY6maaZBH
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) April 12, 2021
A Fox spokesperson released a terse response to Smartmatic: “The filing only confirms our view that the suit is meritless and FOX News covered the election in the highest tradition of the First Amendment,” the spokesperson said.