- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Fox News has doubled down on its bid for a judge to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought by Smartmatic USA, arguing that the voting software company seeks to silence news coverage in violation of the First Amendment.

Smartmatic asks this Court to become the first in history to hold the press liable for reporting allegations made by a sitting President and his lawyers, and to break that barrier in the context of one of the most newsworthy events imaginable: a contested presidential election,” lawyers for Fox News argued in a court filing Monday in New York state court. “This Court should decline that First-Amendment-defying request.”

Smartmatic sued Fox News for $2.7 billion in February, arguing some of the network’s personalities spread false information about election fraud intentionally, running afoul of the First Amendment.

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Fox News previously moved to have the lawsuit dismissed, arguing that the allegations against the company were newsworthy and warranted coverage. This week’s filing renews that request.

The cable network said Smartmatic became part of a controversy after former President Donald Trump alleged fraud in the 2020 election and that Fox hosts simply covered both sides of the contested election.

“When a sitting President claims an election was stolen and assembles a legal team to challenge it, the public has a right to know about the allegations. When the press informs the public about those allegations, the First Amendment robustly protects that coverage,” the 85-page filing read.

“Seeking to impose billions of dollars in liability for such coverage goes beyond a chilling effect: It poses a direct threat to the reporting of newsworthy allegations on which our democracy depends,” Fox’s lawyers added.

Smartmatic has ties to Dominion Voting Systems, whose machines and software were the focus of unsubstantiated allegations of vote tampering in the 2020 presidential election. Smartmatic software was used in Los Angeles County, according to The Associated Press.

Dominion Voting Systems also sued Fox News for $1.6 billion for allegedly defaming the company.

The Dominion lawsuit, filed in Delaware, where both companies are incorporated, said Fox News personalities made false claims that Dominion had rigged the election in favor of President Biden.

Fox News stands by reporting.

In November, anchor Eric Shawn interviewed Dominion spokesperson Michael Steel, who rebuffed allegations of fraud. The interview was promoted across other shows, according to Fox.

“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,” said a spokesperson from Fox News Media.

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