Dominion Voting Systems, the voting tech firm that became a lightning rod for MAGAland’s debunked conspiracy theories about voter fraud in the 2020 elections, is coming down hard on its loudest pro-Trump antagonists in the form of major defamation lawsuits.
Already, lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, plus MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell (aka the MyPillow Guy), are each being sued for $1.3 billion dollars after they falsely claimed Dominion rigged its machines to erase votes for ex-President Donald Trump.
And now Fox News, which gave all those people a megaphone with which to regurgitate their lies for months, finds itself to be Dominion’s latest target.
The network issued a statement early Friday standing by its coverage.
“FOX News Media 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,” the network said.
In Dominion’s $1.6 billion suit filed on Friday, the company took aim at several Fox News personalities and Trumpworld figures. While Dominion has filed lawsuits against several individuals it references in its latest lawsuit, the complaint is against Fox News Network LLC, not any particular individual.
Dobbs is by far the most-cited Fox host in the entire filing.
Besides “repeatedly” hosting Giuliani and Powell on his program to let them spread falsehoods about Dominion unchallenged, Dominion’s attorneys allege, Dobbs also spewed those lies himself, such as when he accused the tech firm of engaging in “a four-and-a-half year- long effort to overthrow the President of the United States” during a broadcast on November 12.
One of the many other examples Dominion cites is a tweet Dobbs posted on December 10 hyping what he claimed to be “groundbreaking new evidence” that the election “came under massive cyber-attack orchestrated with the help of Dominion, Smartmatic, and foreign adversaries.”
The Fox host referred to this (nonexistent) attack as “Cyber Pearl Harbor.”
Dominion argued that, like Dobbs, Bartiromo peddled defamatory false statements about the tech firm by both regularly inviting Giuliani and Powell on her show to discuss their unhinged conspiracy theories and making bogus statements of her own.
In one instance listed in the lawsuit, Bartiromo falsely claimed on November 15: “There is much to understand about Smartmatic, which owns Dominion Voting Systems. They have businesses in Venezuela, Caracas, they have business in Cuba, and there are also links to China.” (Smartmatic, a separate election tech company, does not own Dominion, and neither of them have businesses in any of those countries.)
The lawsuit also noted that Bartiromo called Powell’s bonkers conspiracy theories “explosive” in that same broadcast.
Dominion alleged that on January 26, Carlson and Fox “knowingly broadcast lies about Dominion to a global audience” by inviting MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a major sponsor for the network, on Carlson’s program, “where they knew he would repeat those lies in response to questions about why he had been banned from Twitter.”
Carlson “endorsed Lindell’s lie that he ‘found’ the ‘machine fraud’ and ‘ha[s] all the evidence’—which, of course, Lindell did not produce on the show because no such evidence exists,” Dominion’s lawyers wrote, adding that the Fox host “gave his biggest sponsor an unchallenged platform to spout his lies, did not demand any evidence, and did not point out to viewers that Lindell had not produced the ‘evidence’ he claimed to have.”
The lawsuit highlights several wild moments in Lindell’s interview with Carlson on January 26 in which the pillow tycoon goes completely off the rails with his conspiracy theories about Dominion, including an accusation that they “hired hit groups, bots and trolls, went after all my vendors, all these box stores to cancel me out.”
Dominion also quotes Lindell telling Carlson that he’s been “all in trying to find the machine fraud” and that “we have all the evidence,” which he did not provide on the show.
“I dare Dominion to sue me because then it will get out faster,” Lindell added.
The firm did exactly that a month later.
Powell is already facing a defamation lawsuit of her own from Dominion, and she was repeatedly cited in the Fox News lawsuit for her false statements. Dominion lawyers referred to Powell as an “obviously unreliable source” who was even dumped by the Trump Campaign for her “improbable and outlandish” claims.
Among the conspiracy theorist lawyer’s most wild stolen election fantasies, is perhaps the notion that Dominion had unleashed a “massive and coordinated effort” to steal the 2020 presidential election by running an algorithm that shaved votes from Trump and awarded them to Biden.
“They used the machines to trash large batches of votes that should have been awarded to President Trump,” she told Sean Hannity on his program in November, claiming that the machines had added massive numbers of votes for Biden.
Powell also accused Republican officials who refused to go along with Trump’s efforts to overturn election results in Georgia of taking part in a payoff scheme to manipulate voting machines.
Hannity, reportedly Fox News’ highest paid personality, repeatedly invited false information favorites Giuliani and Powell onto his widely watched nighttime program to perpetuate false claims about Dominion’s voting machines.
“Why we would use a system that everybody agreed sucked or had problems is beyond me,” Hannity said during a Nov. 30 broadcast, raising concerns over Dominion weeks after Trump’s loss. Hannity then appeared to egg on Powell’s elaborate falsehoods, asking her to expand on false claims about why witnesses she failed to produce to corroborate her allegations couldn’t come forward out of fear of retribution.
Hannity further enabled Powell, according to Dominion lawyers, to advance false statements that Dominion machines ran an algorithm and “shaved votes from Trump.”
This is just sad.
Hannity takes Sidney Powell at her word that her witnesses can't come forward "without certain protections in place" and that they "require confidentiality" because their "lives have been threatened" and one has been "beaten up and is in the hospital." pic.twitter.com/5ZmAUPFIgF
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) December 1, 2020
Dominion lawyers peppered the lawsuit with repeated examples of efforts by Hannity and his producers to continue to host Powell and Giuliani, ultimately “giving them a platform to widely disseminate and repeat their lies about Dominion to a national (and, indeed, a global) audience, and embracing those lies as their own by endorsing and repeating them.”
“Hannity did not correct Powell or notify his millions of viewers that he and his show’s producers had seen direct evidence disproving those false claims,” the lawsuit alleged, referring to its own efforts to provide factsheets to Hannity and others, alerting them about the debunked claims.
In the weeks following his election loss, Giuliani, who was also slapped with a separate Dominion lawsuit in January, repeatedly told the president that he could still win the election and that his other advisers were lying to him about his chances. That unwavering devotion quickly earned the former New York mayor a spot alongside Powell as a prominent face of the president’s antidemocratic effort to overturn the election.
Giuliani was a purveyor of an array of election-related conspiracy theories favoring Trump, which he blasted on his podcast, social media feed and all over Fox News, according to the lawsuit. Dominion lawyers described Giuliani’s claims as “ludicrous, inherently improbable and technologically impossible.”
“Giuliani never signed any complaint concerning the 2020 election — whether for the Trump Campaign or anyone else — that contained any allegations about Dominion,” Dominion lawyers wrote.
In spite of this, Dominion’s lawyers alleged that the network routinely provided a prime time platform for Giuliani to “fan the flames” and promote election falsehoods about Dominion.
During a Nov. 12 broadcast, Giuliani told host Lou Dobbs that Dominion was owned by Smartmatic, which he alleged had been formed to “fix elections” by three Venezuelans who were close associates of the deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez — and had since become allies to Nicolas Maduro.
“This company has tried-and-true methods for fixing elections by calling a halt to the voting when you’re running too far behind,” Giuliani said.
The lawsuit accused Fox News of knowingly turning to Giuliani instead of official White House spokespeople to promote a defamatory campaign against the voting machines company.
Dominion lawyers also took aim at “Justice w/Judge Jeanine” host Jeanine Pirro, a former district attorney and judge, for her bad faith efforts to amplify claims that Giuliani made on her show’s airwaves, but had never put forward in litigation.
“Fox and Pirro deliberately hid the stark disparity between what Giuliani was saying in court and what he was saying on Fox,” Dominion said in the lawsuit. The complaint said that Pirro and the network had “deliberately concealed” those disparities in order to avoid damaging the false narratives they were promoting.
A day after Dominion lawyers sent a retraction demand letter to Fox News, Pirro continued to repeat Giuliani’s false claims that the voting company was a criminal enterprise. She propelled the Trump lawyer’s assertions that Dominion — boosted by “Cuban money” with roots in Venezuela — was “flipping votes” for Biden.
“Why was there an overnight popping of the vote tabulation that can’t be explained for Biden?” Pirro mused during a Nov. 21 broadcast.
— Jeanine Pirro (@JudgeJeanine) November 22, 2020
Dominion lawyers alleged, however, that Pirro’s own reporting ahead of the election provided an answer to her “misleading” question: that later-counted mail-in ballots leaned heavily for Biden because conservative news networks, together with Trump, had spent months disparaging mail-in voting.