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Murdoch under oath again in voting machine case

November 29, 2023

Rupert Murdoch will be questioned under oath as part of voting technology company Smartmatic’s $2.7 billion (€2.4bn) defamation lawsuit against Fox Corp over coverage of false vote-rigging claims involving the 2020 US presidential election.

Smartmatic is seeking damages from Fox Corp, Fox News and five individuals: Rudolph Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who were lawyers for Donald Trump; and Fox hosts Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, as well as former Fox host Lou Dobbs.

Smartmatic alleges in a New York court filing that the defendants knowingly spread false claims that the company’s software was used to flip votes in favour of Joe Biden and against Trump. Fox has denied the allegations.

Previously, Fox has said that the network had a right to report on highly newsworthy allegations of voter fraud, that its job was to inform the public, and that airing fraud claims was protected by the US constitution’s first amendment protections for press freedom. It also has called Smartmatic’s damages claims “outrageous, unsupported and not rooted in sound financial analysis”.

In order to prevail in a defamation case, Smartmatic must prove that Fox knowingly spread false information or recklessly disregarded the truth, the standard known as ‘actual malice’. A New York state appeals court in February rejected Fox’s bid to dismiss the case, finding that Smartmatic had alleged in ‘detailed fashion’ how Fox ‘effectively endorsed and participated’ in defamation.

In April Fox settled for $787.5 million another defamation lawsuit, brought by Dominion Voting Systems, the largest-ever defamation settlement publicly announced by an American media company. Murdoch said during his deposition in the Dominion case that he believed the election was fair. He acknowledged having concerns about Fox’s coverage of the debunked voting fraud claims but said he did not play an active role in shaping it.

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