Voting company sues Fox News for $US1.6B

Colleen LongAAP
A US voting company has launched a massive defamation lawsuit against Fox News.
Camera IconA US voting company has launched a massive defamation lawsuit against Fox News. Credit: AP

Dominion Voting Systems has filed a $US1.6 billion ($A2.1 billion) defamation lawsuit against Fox News, arguing the cable news giant, in an effort to boost faltering ratings, falsely claimed the voting company had rigged the 2020 election.

The lawsuit is part of a growing body of legal action filed by the voting company and other targets of misleading, false and bizarre claims spread by President Donald Trump and his allies in the aftermath of Trump's election loss to Joe Biden.

Those claims helped spur on rioters who stormed the US Capitol on January 6 in a violent siege that left five people dead, including a police officer. The siege led to Trump's historic second impeachment.

Dominion argues Fox News, which amplified inaccurate assertions that Dominion altered votes, "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 lawsuit obtained by The Associated Press.

"The truth matters. Lies have consequences," the lawsuit says. "... If this case does not rise to the level of defamation by a broadcaster, then nothing does."

Even before Dominion's lawsuit on Friday, Fox News had already filed four motions to dismiss other legal action against its coverage. And anchor Eric Shawn interviewed a Dominion spokesperson on air in November.

"Fox News Media is proud of our 2020 election coverage, which stands in the highest tradition of American journalism, and we will vigorously defend against this baseless lawsuit in court," it said in a statement.

There was no known widespread fraud in the 2020 election, which a range of election officials across the country - and even Trump's attorney-general, William Barr - have confirmed.

Republican governors in key battleground states Arizona and Georgia also vouched for the integrity of the elections in their states. Judges dismissed nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies.

Still, some Fox News employees elevated false charges that Dominion had changed votes through algorithms in its voting machines that had been created in Venezuela to rig elections for the late dictator Hugo Chavez.

On-air personalities brought on Trump allies Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, who spread the claims, and then amplified those claims on Fox News' massive social media platforms.

Dominion says in the lawsuit it tried repeatedly to set the record straight but was ignored by Fox News.

Though Dominion serves 28 states, until the 2020 election it had been little known. It is now widely targeted in conservative circles, seen by millions of people as one of the main villains in a fictional tale in which Democrats conspired to steal votes from Trump, the lawsuit says.

Dominion has also sued Giuliani, Powell and the chief executive of Minnesota-based MyPillow over the claims.

A rival company, Smartmatic USA, also sued Fox News over election claims, but Smartmatic's participation in the 2020 election was restricted to Los Angeles County. Fox News has moved to dismiss its suit.

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