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A New York State Supreme Court judge denied Fox News’ motion to dismiss a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit filed by Smartmatic, the voting technology company which sued Fox over the network’s spread of false claims that the tech company rigged the 2020 presidential election.
Judge David Cohen, who has ruled the defamation lawsuit against Fox can proceed, also declined the network’s motion to dismiss the defamation claims made against host Maria Bartiromo and former host Lou Dobbs. The judge did, however, dismiss the claims made against The Five co-host Jeanine Pirro.
Smartmatic has alleged that Dobbs, Pirro and Bartiromo have intentionally lied about the company in an effort to mislead the public into the false belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Trump. Smartmatic has said that its reputation has been “irreparably harmed” by the rhetoric — Dobbs, Pirro and Bartiromo, along with Trump’s personal attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell when they falsely deemed the company responsible for rigging election results against President Trump.
In the motion to dismiss, filed in February 2021, Fox News cited the First Amendment, saying it was just presenting all sides of the election debate, and interviewing people in the news to present information of value to its audience.
“Even assuming that Fox News did not intentionally allow this false narrative to be broadcasted, there is a substantial basis for plaintiffs’ claim that, at a minimum, Fox News turned a blind eye to a litany of outrageous claims about plaintiffs, unprecedented in the history of American elections, so inherently improbable that it evinced a reckless disregard for the truth,” Cohen wrote in his decision.
Fox News says it will appeal Judge Cohen’s decision.
“While we are gratified that Judge Cohen dismissed Smartmatic’s claims against Jeanine Pirro at this early stage, we still plan to appeal the ruling immediately,” the network said in a statement. “We will also continue to litigate these baseless claims by filing a counterclaim for fees and costs under New York’s anti-SLAPP statute to prevent the full-blown assault on the First Amendment which stands in stark contrast to the highest tradition of American journalism.”