Over at Fox News, they lie so often that they seem to think they have some sort of license to do so and are therefore immune to the same standards which apply to real journalists.
Now, however, the lies are catching up with some of the hosts who were eager to help spread the conspiracy theories and disinformation being pumped out by attorneys working for failed, one-term former President Donald Trump in the weeks after it became clear that Joe Biden had soundly thrashed Trump in both the popular and electoral vote.
“Smartmatic, the voting technology company that was the focus of multiple conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 presidential election, asked a judge in New York to reject Fox News’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the network and several anchors of knowingly engaging in a multi-month “disinformation campaign” against the company.
“The 120-page motion, filed Monday evening in New York state court, argued that Fox News and its employees cannot use the First Amendment as a shield against the demonstrably false claims laid out in the initial complaint.”
The lawsuit — which seeks damages of $2.7 billion from Fox — specifically names the following Fox hosts for engaging in coordinated “disinformation campaign” that damaged Smartmatic’s reputation and threatened its existence as a company: Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro, and Lou Dobbs. Dobbs has since been dismissed from the network.
The motion from Smartmatic’s attorneys states:
“This is not a game. The First Amendment does not provide the Fox Defendants a Get Out Of Jail Free card. The Fox Defendants do not get a do-over with their reporting now that they have been sued.”
Fox’s attorney, former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, argued that the network had a right to report on what was being said about the 2020 election:
“This suit strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. Smartmatic’s theory is fundamentally incompatible with the reality of the modern news network and deeply rooted principles of free speech law.
“In short, FOX did exactly what the First Amendment protects: It ensured that the public had access to newsmakers and unquestionably newsworthy information that would help foster ‘uninhibited, robust, and wide-open’ debate on rapidly developing events of unparalleled importance.”
But Smartmatic had the perfect comeback to such a claim:
“The Fox Defendants solicited and published calculated falsehoods about Smartmatic. They enjoy no protection or immunity pursuant to the First Amendment or New York law. The motions filed by the Fox Defendants are predicated on a version of events that they may now wish took place, but did not.
“The Fox anchors knew what Giuliani and Powell would say on their shows, asked questions to elicit lies about Smartmatic, and endorsed Giuliani’s and Powell’s investigation. The Fox anchors added their own defamatory comments about Smartmatic for good measure. This was a scripted performance by the Fox anchors, Giuliani, and Powell to defame and disparage Smartmatic for personal gain.”
As the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled, there are limits to the First Amendment, and one of them protects us from those who seek to defame our reputation or choose to tell lies about us. Fox needs to learn that lesson, and it may well take a multibillion dollar verdict to make sure they do.