By OLIVIA RUBIN, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Dominion Voting Systems on Friday morning filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, alleging that the conservative network pushed false accusations that the voting company had rigged the 2020 election, in order to make a profit and boost ratings.
“Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process,” Dominion stated in its complaint.
The complaint, filed in Delaware, is the fourth in a series of lawsuits launched by the Denver-based voting company after it became the center of far-reaching false conspiracy theories surrounding its involvement in the 2020 election — fueled largely by right-wing figures close to then-President Donald Trump as part of the effort to overturn the results of the election.
In its first suit filed against a media company, Dominion claims Fox News pushed the “outlandish, defamatory, and far-fetched” claims as part of an effort to “lure viewers back” after they fled to other networks because they saw Fox as “insufficiently supportive” of Trump after his loss.
“Fox recklessly disregarded the truth,” the complaint said. “Indeed, Fox knew these statements about Dominion were lies.”
In a statement issued in response to the suit, Fox News officials said, “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 has in recent months filed similar billion-dollar defamation suits against other Trump allies for what the company said was their role in pushing the false allegations, including Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney; Sidney Powell, a member of the Trump’s legal team who was later removed; and Mike Lindell, the Trump-aligned pillow magnate.
Some have backed down from their claims in the face of threats of legal action. On Monday, Powell filed a motion to dismiss Dominion’s lawsuit against her, arguing that “no reasonable person” should have believed her election theories were “truly statements of fact.”
“It was clear to reasonable persons that Powell’s claims were her opinions and legal theories on a matter of utmost public concern,” Powell’s attorneys wrote in their 54-page filing on Monday, arguing that those statements should be protected under the First Amendment.
Powell, though, relentlessly pushed her false theories about a rigged election as fact on social media and in dozens of television appearances, in press conferences, and in lawsuits filed in courts around the country — all of which were denied by judges or withdrawn.
As the threat of litigation loomed, Fox News and other television outlets also aired retractions walking back their earlier reports on voting machine companies.
“There are lots of opinions about the integrity of the election, the irregularities of mail-in voting, of election voting machines and voting software,” Lou Dobbs, a Fox News host and close ally of Trump’s, said at the top of a December segment debunking fraud claims about the voting machine company Smartmatic. He then interviewed an elections expert who refuted claims about fraud and mismanagement during the 2020 election.
Fox moved to dismiss a Smartmatic lawsuit filed against them in February, claiming the suit was “meritless” and an attempt to “stifle debate and chill vital First Amendment activities.”
In January, a conservative online magazine followed suit and aired a retraction and apology for its reports that “falsely accused” Dominion of rigging the election based on “discredited sources.”
“These statements are completely false and have no basis in fact,” the American Thinker’s retraction stated. “It was wrong for us to publish these false statements. We apologize to Dominion for all of the harm this caused them and their employees.”
“We regret this grave error,” it said.
Others, however, have doubled down on their accusations in recent weeks. Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow, told ABC News he was “so happy” Dominion had filed a lawsuit against him because it would enable him to demand internal company documents through the legal discovery process.
“This is what I wanted. I’ve been waiting for this. I just called my lawyers, I said finally they’re doing it,” Lindell told ABC News.
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.