In an example cited in Smartmatic’s 276-page complaint, Mr Dobbs’ program broadcast a false claim from Ms. Powell that Hugo Chávez, the former president of Venezuela, was involved in developing the company’s technology and software installed so that votes could be cast could be switched undetected. (Mr. Chávez, who died in 2013, had nothing to do with Smartmatic.)
Smartmatic also cited an episode of “Lou Dobbs Tonight” in which Mr. Giuliani falsely labeled the election “stolen” and claimed that hundreds of thousands of “illegal ballots” had been found. Mr Dobbs described the election as the end of “four and a half years of efforts to overthrow the President of the United States” and the specter of outside interference arose.
“It feels like a cover-up in certain places, you know – the servers in foreign countries, private companies,” Dobbs said.
Fox has promised to fight the lawsuit. “We are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend this unfounded lawsuit in court,” the network said in a statement the day before Mr Dobbs’ show canceled.
Conservative media executives argue that Smartmatic’s lawsuit raises nasty questions about how news organizations should portray public figures: Ms. Powell was a conspirator, but she was also the president’s attorney. Should a media company be allowed to transfer their rights?
“This creates a new standard that is very dangerous for all cable channels,” said Christopher Ruddy, owner of Newsmax and Trump confidante, in an interview on Saturday. “You have to scrutinize everything that public figures say and what they say could be viewed as defamatory.” Mr Ruddy claims that Newsmax presented a fair picture of allegations of election fraud and voting technology companies.
However, Newsmax employees have been made aware of the potential harm stemming from allegations that surfaced on their shows. In an extraordinary on-air moment on Tuesday, Mike Lindell, the founder of MyPillow and a staunch ally of Trump, began attacking Dominion – and was immediately cut off by a Newsmax anchor, Bob Sellers, who read a formal statement that Newsmax the election had accepted results “as legal and final.”