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Right-wing Fox News sued for $1.6 bn over election fraud fabrications

Far-right US broadcaster Fox News is facing a $1.6bn lawsuit for disseminating election fraud lies. (File photo by Reuters)

Conservative US-based Fox News network has been sued by the North American voting machine company Dominion in a $1.6bn defamation lawsuit, accusing the news outlet of disseminating “outlandish” claims about its alleged role in rigging the 2020 presidential poll in favor of Joe Biden.

The legal action, filed in a Delaware court on Friday, further accuses a number of Fox’s most prominent show hosts, such as Maria Bartiromo, Tucker Carlson, Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro “and their chosen guests” of spreading “defamatory falsehoods” about Dominion in its bid to halt an exodus of angry viewers following Donald Trump’s election defeat.

The lawsuit by the voting machine firm also points out that after the November 3 election, “viewers began fleeing Fox in favor of media outlets endorsing the lie that massive fraud caused President Trump to lose the election.

“They saw Fox as insufficiently supportive of President Trump, including because Fox was the first network to declare that President Trump lost Arizona,” the complaint adds. “So Fox set out to lure viewers back – including President Trump himself – by intentionally and falsely blaming Dominion for President Trump’s loss by rigging the election.”

The complaint further states that Fox supercharged false conspiracy theories about Dominion, grabbing the lies from relatively obscure corners of the far-right internet and broadcasting them to tens of millions of viewers on television and online.

“Fox took a small flame and turned it into a forest fire,” the lawsuit insists. “As the dominant media company among those viewers dissatisfied with the election results, Fox gave these fictions a prominence they otherwise would never have achieved.”

Dominion pointed not only to general assertions of fraud by Fox, but more specific allegations as well, including claims that it paid “kickbacks” to government officials who agreed to use its voting machines, as well as the false allegation that Dominion is “owned by a company founded in Venezuela to rig elections for the dictator Hugo Chavez.”

“Fox knew these statements about Dominion were lies,” the lawsuit emphasizes, adding that the outlet continued to allege fraud even after it was “put on specific written notice of the facts.”

Baseless conspiracy claims about Dominion, accusing the firm of using technology that flipped votes away from Trump, appear to have originated in anonymous comments on a pro-Trump blog.

But in an effort to steal the presidential election, Trump himself gave the claims the broadest possible platform, including a November 12 tweet in which he wrote in part: “REPORT: DOMINION DELETED 2.7 MILLION TRUMP VOTES NATIONWIDE.”

Dominion insisted that such lies had threatened its reputation and business.

“Dominion brings this lawsuit to set the record straight, to vindicate its rights, and to recover damages for the devastating economic harm done to its business,” the company stated in its legal action against Fox.

“Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process. If this case does not rise to the level of defamation by a broadcaster, then nothing does.”

Fox is also facing a legal battle over spreading election lies on multiple fronts. The voting technology company Smartmatic earlier slapped Fox News and its commentators with a $2.7 billion lawsuit, accusing them of a “disinformation campaign.”

Fox has filed multiple motions to dismiss the Smartmatic case.

Fox, meanwhile, vowed to fight the case in a Friday statement, claiming: “Fox News Media is proud of our 2020 election coverage, which stands in the highest tradition of American journalism, and will vigorously defend against this baseless lawsuit in court.”

Dominion, a major US and Canadian voting machine company, earlier sued the Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani for $1.3 billion each for spreading election lies during weeks of legal challenges to Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in what officials have described as the most secure election in US history.

On Tuesday, Powell defended herself against the Dominion suit by arguing in court that “no reasonable person” could have mistaken her wild claims about election fraud last November as statements of fact.

A Dominion employee separately sued the Trump campaign after receiving death threats. The company also sued the chief executive of a pillow company, Mike Lindell, a Trump friend who produced a video about election conspiracies.

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