Fox News being sued for $1.6bn over election rigging claim

26 March 2021, 16:23

Trump Participates in a Fox News Virtual Town Hall
Trump Participates in a Fox News Virtual Town Hall. Picture: PA

By Harriet Whitehead

A US voting company has filed a $1.6bn (£1.1bn) defamation lawsuit against Fox News over a claim that the firm had rigged the 2020 presidential election.

Dominion Voting Systems has argued that in an effort to boost its ratings, Fox News falsely claimed that the company had rigged last year's vote.

It is the first time a defamation suit has been filed against a media outlet by the firm.

Dominion has said that Fox News, which amplified inaccurate claims of altered votes, "sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process", according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by the Associated Press.

The company was targeted by claims spread by former president Donald Trump and his allies in the aftermath of his election loss to President Joe Biden.

Rioters stormed the US Capitol on 6 January, leaving five people dead, including a police officer, following allegations of election rigging.

This led to Mr Trump's historic second impeachment.

READ MORE: Donald Trump acquitted by Senate in second impeachment trial

"Fox News Media is proud of our 2020 election coverage, which stands in the highest tradition of American journalism, and we will vigorously defend against this baseless lawsuit in court," it said in a statement on Friday.

Before Dominion's lawsuit on Friday, Fox News had filed four motions to dismiss other legal actions against its coverage.

Lawyers for Dominion said Fox News' behaviour differed greatly from that of other media outlets that reported on the claims.

"This was a conscious, knowing business decision to endorse and repeat and broadcast these lies in order to keep its viewership," said lawyer Justin Nelson, of Susman Godfrey.

Dominion's employees, from its software engineers to its founder, have been harassed, some receiving death threats, and the company has suffered "enormous and irreparable economic harm", lawyers said.