WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 - A judge appeared skeptical of the effort by Fox Corp to dismiss a $2.7 billion lawsuit alleging Fox News host and guests made defamatory claims about the voting technology firm Smartmatic during the coverage of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
During a virtual oral argument, the New York state judge made comments sympathetic to Smartmatic, a small company that sued Fox and two of Donald Trump'sTrump's former lawyers, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, after the attorneys falsely accused it of rigging votes against the former president.
The judge questioned whether there was any basis whatsoever for claims Powell and Giuliani made about Smartmatic on Fox's airwaves, like that the company was banned in Texas.
How is that not defamatory? the judge said. Was Smartmatic banned in Texas?
The judge asked whether Lou Dobbs has ever attempted to ascertain any evidence of this claim.
The lawyer for Paul Clement responded that those allegations were made in an interview Dobbs conducted with Giuliani and that Fox News had a constitutional right to report on newsworthy claims made by Trump's lawyers.
Judge has noted that experts have rejected the conspiracy theory that the election was hack, adding that even Fox News host Tucker Carlson blasted Powell for failing to back the theory with evidence.
The judge asked whether that would have made Fox News reconsider the accuracy of reporting.
Clement said that Fox was merely reporting on newsworthy claims made by Trump's legal teams, not endorsing the theories.
Fox News, Dominion Voting Systems, and Powell were sued separately for defamation by another voting software company, Giuliani. Last week a judge denied a bid by Powell and Giuliani to dismiss claims against them.
Smartmatic's technology was used only in one place for the Nov. 3 presidential election: Los Angeles County, which Biden won