A voting technology company swept up in baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election said on Monday that it had sent legal notices to Fox News and two other right-wing media companies for participating in a “disinformation campaign” aimed at damaging it.
The company, Smartmatic, said that Fox News, One America News, and Newsmax have helped spread false and defamatory claims that are not supported by real evidence and could easily have been debunked with basic research.
“They have no evidence to support their attacks on Smartmatic because there is no evidence,” Smartmatic chief executive Antonio Mugica said in a statement. “This campaign was designed to defame Smartmatic and undermine legitimately conducted elections.”
As President Donald Trump continues to attack the integrity of the voting system, some of his allies have homed in on Smartmatic because of the services it provided Los Angeles County for the 2020 election.
The baseless conspiracy theories peddled about Smartmatic, which mimic those pushed against Dominion Voting Systems, falsely suggest that the company’s technology allowed the November vote to be rigged against Trump. Some strains of the conspiracy theory have aimed to tie the company to the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez and George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist who is portrayed as a boogeyman in right-wing media.
In its legal notice to Fox News, Smartmatic identified several instances in which such theories were spread on its air by either Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani or former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell. The legal notice, which stated assertions made about Chavez and Soros have no truth to them, also identified instances in which the network’s pro-Trump propagandists, such as Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, helped spread false information.
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“Fox News embarked on a disinformation campaign against Smartmatic shortly after the election closed and continuing today,” the legal notice said. “Over the course of the campaign, Fox News published and republished dozens of false and misleading statements regarding Smartmatic.”
The legal notice said it believed Fox News has “no evidence or credible source to support” the false statements made on its air and said the network “would have easily discovered the falsity of the statements and implications being made about Smartmatic by performing even a modicum of investigation.”
“Smartmatic demands a full and complete retraction of all false and defamatory statements and reports published by Fox News,” the legal notice added. “This retraction must be done with the same intensity and level of coverage that you used to defame the company in the first place.”
Smartmatic, which said it is reserving its legal right to pursue possible defamation claims against Fox News, One America News, and Newsmax, said its response to the conspiracy theories are “more than just about Smartmatic or any other company.”
“This campaign is an attack on election systems and election workers in an effort to depress confidence in future elections and potentially counter the will of the voters, not just here, but in democracies around the world,” Mugica said.
A spokesperson for Fox News did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Neither did a representative for One America News, the small right-wing channel to which Smartmatic also sent a legal notice.
Newsmax said in a statement that it itself had “never made a claim of impropriety about Smartmatic, its ownership or software.”
“Individuals, including plaintiff’s attorneys, Congressmen and others, have appeared on Newsmax raising questions about the company and its voting software, citing legal documents or previously published reports about Smartmatic,” Newsmax added in its statement. “As any major media outlet, we provide a forum for public concerns and discussion. In the past we have welcomed Smartmatic and its representatives to counter such claims they believe to be inaccurate and will continue to do so.”
Smartmatic isn’t the only election technology company that has been compelled to forcefully push back against baseless conspiracy theories targeting it.
In November, elections security company Scytl poured cold water on conspiracy theories about it that had been circulated about it by right-wing media and a Republican congressman.