Smartmatic, a voting technology company made notable by their mention in several claims put out by Sidney Powell, has served Fox News, Newsmax, and One America News. You’ll probably recognize the name of the company in question because it has been mentioned alongside Dominion many times the last month or so. The initial demand appears to be for a “full retraction” based on things broadcast on the networks about Smartmatic. There are specific examples given in the letter, including an interview with Rudy Giuliani.
The Daily Caller has the story.
Smartmatic, a voting technology company, served Fox News, One America News (OAN) and Newsmax with legal notices over a “disinformation campaign,” CNN reported.
Smartmatic claims Fox, OAN and Newsmax have helped spread defamatory claims that the company allowed the election to be rigged in favor of Biden, per CNN. The company has also been accused of being associated with George Soros and former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, according to CNN.
Antonio Mugica, Smartmatic chief executive, said, the networks lacked evidence to support their claims because no such evidence exists, per CNN. “This campaign was designed to defame Smartmatic and undermine a legitimately conducted elections,” Mugica said, according to CNN.
Here are some more of the specific names noted in the letter.
The Smartmatic letter names Fox News hosts Lou Dobbs, Jesse Watters, and Maria Bartiromo as individuals who spread the conspiracy theories. A spokesperson told me that suing them individually is an option on the table. https://t.co/vb2kKDHmXg
— Jacob Shamsian (@JayShams) December 14, 2020
I’m not a lawyer, nor will I pretend to be one. I do think past history says this is a tough row to hoe for Smartmatic. Jesse Watters and Lou Dobbs, for example, are clearly labeled as opinion hosts. I’m not sure about Maria Bartiromo, but I don’t think anyone is under any impression she’s a hard-news journalist.
For their part, Smartmatic’s demands are unlikely to be met simply because of how far they go.
“Smartmatic demands a full and complete retraction of all false and defamatory statements reports published by Fox News. This retraction must be done with the same intensity and level of coverage that you used to defame the company in the first place,” the legal notice states, according to CNN.
It’s one thing to demand a retraction. It’s another to put vague qualifiers on the retraction that ask for the “same intensity and level of coverage” prior statements were given. What exactly would that even look like? The entirety of Lou Dobbs’ show talking about how great and innocent Smartmatic is? Is there some barometer by which Newsmax could judge whether they’ve met the bar set by Smartmatic here? It just doesn’t seem workable.
As to whether Smartmatic will then push this further, who knows. To be fair, they do have some legitimate gripes to make. Smartmatic does not own Dominion Voting Systems, though that claim was made by Powell, Giuliani, etc. on Fox News and other networks. Smartmatic is also not directly connected to Hugo Chavez or the like. If those claims are going to be made, they need to be backed up with undeniable proof. Regardless of what you think about the election results and their legitimacy, false or sketchy information helps no one. That’s one of the reasons Sidney Powell was such a distraction and net negative on the President’s efforts. Though, I will say that any company that has been involved in elections in Venezuela, which Smartmatic has been, shouldn’t be doing anything in the United States on that front. It just doesn’t seem smart to me. As of now, they claim to have only operated in Los Angeles County.
With that said, I do not believe a network or any other outlet is going to end up being held liable for defamation over opinions expressed by their guests and opinion hosts. That seems to run pretty contrary to past precedent, especially when you know Lou Dobbs believed every word he was saying. There was no malice and intent on his part to defame anyone. But Smartmatic is welcome to push this, I suppose. We’ll keep you updated on how it goes. I’m sure Fox News will be putting out a statement eventually.
(Please follow me on Twitter! @bonchieredstate)