(Daily Kos) – Fox News is in a world of hurt these days and it’s only getting worse. Even as the once-dominant conservative network competes for viewers with disinformation upstarts like Newsmax and One America News Network, a second voting systems firm is suing it to the tune of $1 billion dollars.
On Friday morning, news broke that Dominion Voting Systems had filed a $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox over its airing of bogus claims by Donald Trump and his allies that the company rigged the 2020 election. Last month, Smartmatic, an election technology firm, also sued the network for a staggering $2.7 billion, claiming that it both defamed the company and helped fuel the fervor that resulted in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
The Dominion suit, filed in a Delaware court, homes in on Fox’s role in spreading one of the most outrageous claims made by ex-Trump attorney Sidney Powell, who argued the company’s election machines were made in Venezuela to rig elections for the late dictator Hugo Chávez and Dominion’s algorithm ensured that Trump would lose.
“Fox engaged in this knowing and reckless propagation of these enormous falsehoods in order to profit off these lies,” the court filing argues, according to The Washington Post. “Fox wanted to continue to protect its broadcast ratings, catering to an audience deeply loyal to President Trump.”
Dominion’s filing against Fox follows other defamation suits it already filed against Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and MyPillow guy Mike Lindell. In a court filing this week, Powell’s attorneys argued that “no reasonable person” could possibly conclude her utterances were “truly statements of fact.” In actuality, multiple polls have shown the vast majority of Republicans believe the election was stolen from Trump.
Fox News, of course, deemed Powell’s claims credible enough to air to many millions of its viewers. Dominion lawyer Tom Clare noted that in one appearance, Powell turned straight to a Fox camera and told viewers, “You would have to be a damn fool and abjectly stupid not to see what happened here.”
Another Dominion attorney, Stephen Shackelford, likened the false claims to “a small flame” that Fox “turned into a raging fire” with “reckless disregard” for the truth.
Dominion will have to prove that Fox knowingly aired false statements, an effort that should be aided by the divergence in coverage between many of its daytime reporters and its primetime anchors, such as Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro. The discovery process could reveal the network’s internal deliberations and calculations surrounding its election coverage.
According to the Post, the filing suggests that Fox devoted coverage to the baseless claims because its ratings were “in a freefall,” and the network was trying to stem its losses as viewers defected to right-wing channels like Newsmax.
“Viewers began fleeing Fox in favor of media outlets endorsing the lie that massive fraud caused President Trump to lose the election,” the company said in the lawsuit. “They saw Fox as insufficiently supportive of President Trump … So Fox set out to lure viewers [by] intentionally and falsely blaming Dominion for President Trump’s loss by rigging the election.”
Dominion attorneys say the company contacted Fox repeatedly to inform the network it was spreading lies.
Former FBI assistant director Frank Figliuzzi told MSNBC Friday afternoon that he thinks lawsuits like those of Dominion and Smartmatic could be “an extremely effective tactic” in changing the way Fox News operates. In our hyper-capitalistic society, Figliuzzi offered, “you hit them where it hurts,” on the bottom line.
Keep an eye on these suits. They stand a good chance of getting both really ugly and costly for Fox News—a network that has dominated the cable news landscape for decades until it recently starting bleeding viewers to online sites outflanking it to its right.