NEW YORK – Fox News agreed Wednesday to hand over thousands of documents to voting machine company Smartmatic, which is suing the network for defamation in a case similar to Dominion Voting Machines’ just-settled lawsuit.
Smartmatic says Fox bears financial responsibility for airing false allegations that the company rigged the 2020 presidential election against former President Donald Trump.
Last week, Fox agreed to pay Dominion nearly $800 million to avert a trial, although the ultimate cost to the media company is likely to be much lower.
Smartmatic wants a $2.7 billion judgment, which far exceeds the $1.6 billion Dominion sought in its suit. No date has been set, and the case might not go to court for a couple of years.
Smartmatic said in court filings that Fox “slow-rolled its production” of transcripts and other material that were created during the Dominion suit, and that Smartmatic had received just a small fraction of the more than 52,000 documents it requested as part of the discovery process.
Among the documents Smartmatic hopes will bolster its case are deposition transcripts for Fox founder Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan Murdoch, as well as documents related to company executive Raj Shah and lawyer Viet Dinh.
In a statement, Fox News said it was ready to defend itself in “this case surrounding extremely newsworthy events.”
“As a report prepared by our financial expert shows, Smartmatic’s damages claims are implausible, disconnected from reality, and on its face intended to chill First Amendment freedoms,” the network said.
The Dominion case pulled back the curtain on how Fox and its on-air personalities — including Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo and now-fired Tucker Carlson — promoted conspiracy theories and Trump’s baseless effort to overturn the election.
The network suffered an array of embarrassing revelations from emails that showed Fox executives and personalities saying they knew the accusations were untrue, even as the falsehoods were aired on programs.
Because Florida-based Smartmatic’s machines were only used in Los Angeles during the 2020 election, the company had little influence on the presidential race. Still, Fox’s on-air personalities sometimes conflated Dominion and Smartmatic.
Smartmatic’s lawyer, Erik Connolly, has said the Dominion case “exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign. Smartmatic will expose the rest.”
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.