Rupert Murdoch Faces Deposition In Smartmatic’s Defamation Case Against Fox

Business

Rupert Murdoch is being deposed Tuesday and Wednesday as part of Smartmatic‘s $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox, according to Reuters.

Murdoch, who recently stepped down as chairman of Fox Corp. and News Corp., is not named in the lawsuit. But Smartmatic sued Fox News and Fox Corp., arguing that both the network and the parent company are liable for amplifying false claims that the company was involved in 2020 election vote rigging schemes.

A spokesman for Fox Corp. declined to comment. A spokesperson for Smartmatic did not immediately return a request for comment.

Fox Corp. settled another defamation case involving another election systems company, Dominion Voting Systems, in April, just as a trial was about to begin in Wilmington, DE. The $787.5 million settlement was reached just before the elder Murdoch was expected to be called as a witness. He had already been deposed in the Dominion case and he admitted that some Fox hosts “endorsed” Donald Trump‘s false election claims, according to records that were disclosed in the case.

Smartmatic sued Fox News, Fox Corp. and Fox hosts Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, as well as Lou Dobbs. Dobbs’s show was dropped from Fox Business Network shortly after the Smartmatic lawsuit was filed. Also named in the Smartmatic lawsuit were Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, Trump allies who appeared frequently on Fox and other networks in the weeks after the 2020 election.

In February, a New York appeals court declined to dismiss the Smartmatic lawsuit, although the judges did say that the claims against parent Fox Corp. should be tossed out. They did allow Smartmatic to refile the claims against Fox Corp., which the election systems company did the following month. In that filing, Smartmatic’s attorneys claimed that Rupert Murdoch “did not believe the election fraud claims. But he encouraged Fox News Network to embrace the disinformation as a tool to win back the audience.”

In response, Fox Corp. attorneys wrote that “while Smartmatic alleges that Rupert Murdoch occasionally provided suggestions on possible guests and what content shows might cover, Smartmatic does not allege any facts suggesting that he played any affirmative or active role in directing the specific Fox News or Fox Business shows to host Giuliani or Powell or cover their allegations about Smartmatic.”

A Fox News spokesperson said earlier this year, “There is nothing more newsworthy than covering the president of the United States and his lawyers making allegations of voter fraud. We are confident we will prevail as freedom of the press is foundational to our democracy and must be protected, in addition to the damages claims being outrageous, unsupported, and not rooted in sound financial analysis, serving as nothing more than a flagrant attempt to deter our journalists from doing their jobs.” 

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