Dominion Voting Systems is seeking at least $1.6bn from Fox News in a lawsuit accusing the network of airing “outlandish, defamatory and far-fetched” allegations that it helped rig last year’s US presidential election.
The voting-technology company said in a complaint filed on Friday in Delaware that it had lost out on $600m worth of business over the next eight years as a result of “radioactive falsehoods spread by Fox”. It added that it had lost $1bn in enterprise value and incurred at least $1.3m of expenses on top.
Dominion was one of the voting companies that supporters of Donald Trump, the former US president, falsely alleged to have helped switch votes in favour of his rival Joe Biden. Claims of a stolen election helped fuel January’s deadly riot in which supporters of the former president stormed the US Capitol in Washington and attempted to stop the official election result being certified.
John Poulos, Dominion’s chief executive, said in a statement: “The disinformation campaign waged against our company has caused us severe damage and undermined trust in American democratic institutions. These lies also have threatened the personal safety of our employees and customers. No amount of money will repair the damage done.”
Fox News on Friday defended its election coverage, “which stands in the highest tradition of American journalism”, and vowed to “vigorously defend” itself against the Dominion lawsuit in court.
Dominion has already sued Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, two lawyers who acted on Trump’s behalf as he tried to challenge the election results in court and who repeated claims of vote-rigging several times on rightwing news channels.
Last year, Dominion wrote to Fox News demanding the channel retract claims that had been made on its network. But the channel continued to air debunked theories about the company’s role in the election.
On January 26, Fox News host Tucker Carlson interviewed Mike Lindell, chief executive of My Pillow and a prominent Trump supporter, who said: “I’ve been all in trying to find the machine fraud, and I — we — found it.” He then added: “I dare Dominion to sue me because then it will get out faster.”
Dominion’s lawyers said in the lawsuit: “Fox, when confronted with the direct facts disproving its lies about Dominion, refused to retract its false and defamatory statements, thereby further demonstrating its actual malice in publishing them.”
Another voting technology company, Smartmatic, in February sued Fox News and some of its star anchors for defamation, seeking more than $2.7bn in damages.
Fox has moved to dismiss the Smartmatic lawsuit, arguing that it is protected by the first Amendment. “When a sitting president and his surrogates claim that an election was rigged, the public has a right to know what they are claiming, full stop,” Fox said in the motion.
Between the Dominion and Smartmatic defamation cases, Fox News faces claims for more than $4bn in damages over its 2020 election coverage.
Fox chief executive Lachlan Murdoch has defended the news network, which is his company’s financial powerhouse, and dismissed questions about the political slant of Fox News during the Biden presidency.
Murdoch told investors in February that Fox News was targeted at the “centre right” political audience in the US. “We don’t need to go further right . . . and we obviously are not going to pivot left,” he said.