NEW YORK, New York – A New York judge has ruled that Fox Corporation must face a $2.7 billion defamation suit filed by Smartmatic, a voting company accused of rigging the 2020 election. The judge denied a motion to dismiss defamation claims against Fox News’ parent company, while also ruling that Smartmatic must face Fox’s counterclaims alleging the defamation claims are intended to suppress free speech.
Smartmatic’s lawsuit against Fox and some of its hosts and guests is just one of at least eleven ongoing lawsuits over election conspiracy theories. This legal battle continues to be lengthy and costly for both sides.
Fox lawyers had argued that the parent company, led at the time by executives Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, should not be held legally responsible for Fox News coverage. However, New York County Supreme Court Justice David Cohen disagreed, writing that “plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged in their amended complaint that Corp. employees played an affirmative role in the publication of the defamation at issue.”
The judge also noted that plaintiffs have “sufficiently alleged that Corp. employees acted with malice by purposefully and deliberately publishing knowingly false stories about plaintiffs in order to benefit Corp.’s financial interests.”
Furthermore, the judge denied Smartmatic’s motion to dismiss Fox News and Fox Corp.’s counterclaims against them, where the media company had argued Smartmatic’s claims were designed to quell free speech.
This ruling comes after Fox Corp. settled a similar, but separate, defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million last year. Fox has indicated that it is prepared to defend itself when the Smartmatic case goes to trial, likely in 2025.