“Thank you, Jesus,” a woman exclaimed inside the courthouse after Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems announced they had reached a $787.5 million settlement in a would-be blockbuster defamation case. Many court-watchers and general Fox-haters had another reaction: What a letdown.
If you are in the latter camp, fear not: There may soon be another chance to see Fox defend itself in court. Shortly after the settlement announcement, J. Erik Connolly, a lawyer for Smartmatic, issued a statement: “Dominion’s litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign. Smartmatic will expose the rest.” Sequel!
So what is Smartmatic exactly? Based in London, Smartmatic is another voting-tech company that got wrapped up in Donald’s Trump’s election misinformation campaign and ended up on Fox News. The company is seeking a whopping $2.7 billion in damages from Fox, $1 billion more than Dominion. The lawsuit specifically names Fox News hosts Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro, and Lou Dobbs, though Pirro managed to dodge the suit and was removed because she only indirectly blamed Smartmatic on her show. (Meanwhile, Dobbs’ program was yanked off the air shortly after the suit was filed.)
Fox has repeatedly tried to have the case thrown out, making the same argument that failed in the Dominion case—calling it “baseless” and likening it to a “full-blown assault on the First Amendment.” Unfortunately for Fox but fortunately for everyone who feels robbed today, a New York judge has already allowed the case to move forward, citing in a 61-page ruling Fox’s “reckless disregard for the truth.”
Is the Dominion settlement good news for Smartmatic? Its lawyers sure seem to think so. The chest-thumping statement was out within minutes of the news, and the lawsuit is somewhat swaggering itself, opening with, “The Earth is round. Two plus two equals four. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the 2020 election for President and Vice President of the United States.” It cites more than 100 alleged false statements made on the network. At least one analysis said it “appears to be the more dangerous” of the two major defamation suits, though the piece also notes New York has very strong First Amendment protections. (Fox News is also being sued by a former producer for the network who claims Fox tried to get her to lie about Dominion ahead of the trial.)
The Smartmatic case isn’t as far along as Dominion’s yet, raising the possibility of more entertaining discovery to come. Keep the popcorn close by.