Why are Fox News, Newsmax under fire? Smartmatic threatens conservative media channels with defamation lawsuit
'They have no evidence to support their attacks on Smartmatic because there is no evidence. This campaign was designed to defame Smartmatic and undermine legitimately conducted elections,' said Antonio Mugica, who started Smartmatic
Conservative news channels may be in trouble. Lawyers for Florida-based electronic voting system company Smartmatic sent scathing letters to Fox News Channel, Newsmax, and OAN demanding that they immediately, forcefully clear the company’s name -- and that they retain documents for a planned defamation lawsuit.
President Trump and his campaign, ever since Election Day, have falsely claimed that they won the 2020 presidential elections and have consistently floated claims of voter fraud without providing any evidence. Newsmax, in line with Trump's personal views, has also echoed the same unsubstantiated claims. Smartmatic and its competitor, Dominion, which sells its services to about 1,900 of the county governments that administer elections across America, were at the center of Rudy Giuliani’s and Sidney Powell’s voter fraud conspiracy theories.
“Sidney Powell is out there saying that states like Texas, they turned away from Dominion machines, because really there’s only one reason why you buy a Dominion machine and you buy this Smartmatic software, so you can easily change votes,” Newsmax host Chris Salcedo said on November 18. Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business reported on November 15 that, “one source says that the key point to understand is that the Smartmatic system has a backdoor.”
As per a New York Times report, Antonio Mugica, who started Smartmatic, said, “Of course I was surprised, but at the same time, it was pretty clear that these people were trying to discredit the election and they were throwing out 25 conspiracy theories in parallel. I thought it was so absurd that it was not going to have legs.”
Mugica’s lawyer, J. Erik Connolly has a track record with defamation cases -- he reportedly won the largest settlement in the history of American media defamation in 2017, at least $177 million, for a beef producer whose “lean finely textured beef” was described by ABC News as “pink slime.”
“We’ve gotten to this point where there’s so much falsity that is being spread on certain platforms, and you may need an occasion where you send a message, and that’s what punitive damages can do in a case like this,” Connolly told the New York Times.
"They have no evidence to support their attacks on Smartmatic because there is no evidence. This campaign was designed to defame Smartmatic and undermine legitimately conducted elections,” Mugica said in a statement. "Our efforts are more than just about Smartmatic or any other company. This campaign is an attack on election systems and election workers in an effort to depress confidence in future elections and potentially counter the will of the voters, not just here, but in democracies around the world."
Dominion Voting Systems has hired Tom Clare, a famous libel lawyer, who has threatened legal action against Powell and the Trump campaign. Clare said in an emailed statement, “we are moving forward on the basis that she will not retract those false statements and that it will be necessary for Dominion to take aggressive legal action, both against Ms. Powell and the many others who have enabled and amplified her campaign of defamation by spreading damaging falsehoods about Dominion.”
Newsmax issued a clarification on Monday, December 21: "Newsmax would like to clarify its news coverage and note it has not reported as true certain claims made about these companies," the outlet said in a statement posted online and read by host John Tabacco. "There are several facts our viewers and readers should be aware of. Newsmax has found no evidence either Dominion or Smartmatic owns the other or has any business association with each other."
Fox News and Fox Business have mentioned Dominion 792 times and Smartmatic 118 times between them, as per the New York Times.