- Dominion filed a defamation lawsuit Friday against Fox News over election conspiracy theories.
- Fox hosts frequently invited Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani on their programs.
- The two pushed false theories about Dominion flipping election results, with little pushback.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News, seeking $1.6 billion in damages.
The suit alleged the right-wing media organization pushed a conspiracy theory that the election technology company helped rig the 2020 presidential election.
The lawsuit, reported by the Associated Press (AP), was filed on Friday morning.
Insider contacted Fox News representatives for comment on but did not immediately receive a response.
According to the AP, Dominion argues in the suit that Fox News gave prominence to the election-fraud claims as a tactic to revive viewership as ratings dropped after former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss.
The voting technology company said that the network “sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process,” according to a copy of the filing seen by the AP.
That has led to the company – which previously did not have a major public profile – being vilified by millions of conservatives, the AP reported Dominion as saying. Employees of the company have faced harassment as a result, the company said.
The company’s lawyers said it had suffered “enormous and irreparable economic harm,” the AP reported.
For months, Dominion was at the center of a false conspiracy theory that it has secret ties with a rival technology company, Smartmatic, as well as the regime of now-dead Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, and developed technology that switched votes in the November election from then-President Donald Trump to now-President Joe Biden.
The false theory had been pushed by Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, two Trump-allied attorneys who sought and failed to overturn the results of the election in court.
Fox News hosted both lawyers numerous times as guests in the wake of the 2020 election, even as the network had already declared Biden the rightful winner and no evidence backed the attorneys’ claims. Other segments have debunked the same claims.
“This was a conscious, knowing business decision to endorse and repeat and broadcast these lies in order to keep its viewership,” the AP reported attorney Justin Nelson, of Susman Godfrey LLC, as saying. Dominion argued that other media outlets treated the bizarre claims very differently, the agency reported. .
The company said it had repeatedly tried to correct the record, but was ignored by Fox, the AP reported.
In January, Dominion filed defamation lawsuits against Powell and Giuliani individually. Those lawsuits included numerous examples of Giuliani and Powell making their claims in right-wing media, including Fox News, without pushback from hosts.
The suit against Fox News was Dominion’s first against a media outlet rather than an individual. The company said that may yet file lawsuits against specific media personalities, the AP reported.
Smartmatic, in February, filed a single lawsuit against Fox News, Powell, and Giuliani. It also named individual hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro as defendants. Fox News canceled Dobbs’s show days later and said he would no longer have a relationship with the network, saying the move was previously planned.
Dominion had warned Fox News of an “imminent” lawsuit back in December. As Insider previously reported, the election technology company asked the media organization to preserve all documents related to Powell’s and Giuliani’s claims. It also sent letters to individual hosts Sean Hannity, Dobbs, and Bartiromo.
Following similar letters from Smartmatic, Fox News aired a clip of an off-screen interviewer speaking with an elections expert who said there was no link between Smartmatic and Dominion and no evidence that Smartmatic participated in malfeasance.
A Fox News representative had also directed Insider to an interview with the host Eric Shawn and an engineering professor who studied Dominion’s technology and said it was “physically impossible” for it to switch votes, and a clip of the host Tucker Carlson expressing skepticism about Powell.
Dominion attorney Tom Clare told Insider at the time that the videos were insufficient.
“If you accuse somebody falsely on a prime-time slot or in the host’s own voice or in a 10-minute segment, then you need to have equal prominence and equal dignity into the retraction and apology,” Clare said.
Dominion made a similar point in the lawsuit filed Friday, saying that the pushback had not been effective, the AP reported.
“The buck stops with Fox on this,” attorney Stephen Shackelford said. “Fox chose to put this on all of its many platforms. They rebroadcast, republished it on social media and other places.”