Fox News was sued Thursday by voting-machine company Smartmatic, which alleged that the Fox Corp. (FOXA) - Get Report (FOX) - Get Report division claimed that the company participated in a conspiracy to cheat Donald Trump out of election victory.
The suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, a trial court, demands at least $2.7 billion of damages.
The action also names as defendants Fox hosts Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro and Maria Bartiromo, in addition to attorneys Sidney Powell and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who assisted Trump.
The defendants falsely perpetrated a lie to the public -- that the election was full of fraud, Smartmatic, London, alleges.
Fox responded in a statement on behalf of the news service and its hosts named in the complaint, as quoted by The Wall Street Journal: “Fox News Media is committed to providing the full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear opinion. We are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court.”
Powell told the paper in an email that she hadn’t been notified about the lawsuit, but that it sounded like “just another political maneuver motivated by the radical left that has no basis in fact or law.” And Giuliani told the Journal, “Discovery will be even better.”
In December, after Smartmatic demanded retractions from Fox, the network aired a canned interview with a Silicon Valley election technology expert debunking claims of election fraud. The same interview was played on shows hosted by Dobbs, Pirro and Bartiromo. The hosts did not conduct the interview. Instead, the prepared questions were read by an unidentified off-camera person.
Smartmatic is the second voting machine company to file suit. Dominion Voting Systems sued Giuliani and Powell. Giuliani was accused of lying partly to help himself sell gold coins, cigars and health supplements on his podcast.
Fox Class B shares ended the day up 0.6% at $29.33. The Class A shares finished the day up 14 cents, or 0.5% at $30.42.
Morningstar’s Neil Macker puts Fox's fair value at $37. “Fox News made history once again as the first cable channel to be the number one overall network in weekday prime-time ratings for an entire quarter,” he wrote after Fox’s latest earnings report in November.
Fox “represents a large bet on the viability of live sports and news,” Macker said. “We believe these bets are well placed given our expectations for the evolution of the television industry, but Fox is now undiversified relative to other media firms.”