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Dominion Voting Systems Files $1.6 Billion Defamation Lawsuit Against Fox News

A lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems highlights election claims that Trump attorney Sidney Powell made on Lou Dobbs' Fox Business program. The suit includes a photo of one appearance that bore the on-screen headline, "The Battle for the White House: Concerns Raised about Dominion Voting Systems."

Updated March 26, 2021 at 11:14 AM ET

Dominion Voting Systems has filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, saying the network spread false claims that the voting machine company was involved in voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election. "Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process," according to the lawsuit filed Friday in Delaware. "If this case does not rise to the level of defamation by a broadcaster, then nothing does.""Fox endorsed, repeated, and broadcast a series of verifiably false yet devastating lies about Dominion," the complaint says, including claims that the company's software manipulated the results of the 2020 vote. In response, Fox News issued a statement Friday morning stating that it "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."According to Dominion, some of its employees have faced harassment and even death threats over claims pushed by Fox News. Dominion is seeking at least $1.6 billion in lost profits and enterprise value, plus more than $1 million in security expenses and expenses combatting disinformation. The company's lawsuit asks for a jury trial.Dominion has also filed defamation lawsuits against Trump ally and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, and Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, lawyers who worked with Trump on his post-election flurry of legal actions. The company is seeking $1.3 billion in damages from each of them.Dominion is not the only election technology company to say it was targeted by Fox News. Smartmatic filed a $2.7 billion lawsuit against the network, and named Fox stars Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro.Fox News has filed motions seeking to dismiss the Smartmatic lawsuit. But the network also canceledthe Lou Dobbs Tonight show shortly after Smartmatic filed its lawsuit. Dobbs' show aired on Fox Business — a Fox outlet that "repeatedly broadcast the lie that Dominion stole the election," Dominion's lawsuit says. Dominion's court filing alleges that Fox "recklessly disregarded the truth" — and that some of its viewers believed the channel's narrative with such fervor that they "took the fight from social media to the United States Capitol and at rallies across the country to #StopTheSteal, inflicting violence, terror, and death along the way."The suit highlights a Fox Business viewer named Eric Gavelek Munchel, who is now facing federal charges. Authorities identified him as a man who wore dark military-style fatigues and carried a bundle of flex cuffs as he clambered over seats in the Senate chamber. "Munchel had previously posted a photograph of himself with a shotgun, an American flag, and the Fox Business Channel on his television in the background," the lawsuit says, including that image in the court document.The Justice Department's filings against Munchel include a similar image, noting that former President Donald Trump is seen on the TV in the background, and that a man who appeared to be Munchel wore some of the same items seen in footage from the Capitol."The lies did not simply harm Dominion," the company's lawsuit says. "They harmed democracy. They harmed the idea of credible elections. They harmed a once-unshakeable faith in democratic and peaceful transfers of power."The suit accuses Fox of making false statements with malice and attempting to pass them off as fact. As for who it believes is responsible, the suit lists a number of public figures — including Dobbs and Powell, who was a frequent guest on the network. The court filing includes a screenshot of one of those appearances with the on-screen headline, "The Battle for the White House: Concerns Raised about Dominion Voting Systems."Along with those prominent names, the suit lists Fox News hosts such as Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Dobbs, Bartiromo and Pirro, along with their shows' producers and editors. It also names Fox executives who Dominion says were responsible for airing those broadcasts — Suzanne Scott, Jay Wallace, Tom Lowell, Meade Cooper, John Fiedler and Lauren Petterson – along with Fox's corporate leaders, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch. Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.