Using defamation suits to combat misinformation has some free speech advocates uneasy, as the First Amendment provides broad protections for news organizations.
Fox’s lawyers argue that they had a First Amendment privilege to report newsworthy allegations–even false ones–in a neutral way. They also claim that Smartmatic failed to establish a key requirement of a defamation claim—that Piro, Dobbs, and Bartiromo acted with “actual malice.”
On January 8th, Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the suit alleges that during a press conference, rally, and media appearances, Powell “falsely claimed that Dominion had rigged the election, that Dominion was created in Venezuela rig elections for Hugo Chavez, and that Dominion bribed Georgia officials for a no-bid contract.”
From the moment the 2020 presidential election was called in favor of Joe Biden, three prominent conservative cable companies, Fox News, One America News Network (OANN), and Newsmax have repeatedly questioned the accuracy of the results. Now Smartmatic, a voting technology company, is threatening to sue the networks for false claims they published or republished about its product.