The voting technology company Smartmatic has pledged to bring Fox News to trial or otherwise get an apology and “full retraction” in its $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against the right-wing channel. This follows Fox’s $787 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems for similar lies stemming from the network’s coverage of Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential election defeat.
On February 4, 2021, Smartmatic filed a lawsuit against Fox Corp., Fox News, and key current and former network personalities, including Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro, for lying about the company and falsely claiming that it helped to rig the 2020 election. These on-air hosts — along with guests including Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who are also being sued by Smartmatic — made a number of baseless accusations that, according to the lawsuit, “did more than just make [Fox News] money and jeopardize Smartmatic’s survival. The story undermined people’s belief in democracy.”
As alleged by the lawsuit, Dobbs, Bartiromo, Pirro, Giuliani, Powell, and others on Fox pushed a number of false claims about Smartmatic, including that the company helped to “steal” the election from then-President Trump, that the company sent votes to foreign countries to be tabulated, and that it is a foreign company or has ties to Venezuelan dictators. Despite clear evidence to the contrary, Fox personalities also claimed that Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems had related corporate ownership or other intertwined business interests and that Smartmatic was widely used throughout the country, when in fact it was used in only one county that year. In yet another Fox mix-up between the companies, Dobbs falsely suggested that both Smartmatic and Dominion were rejected from use in Texas (it was just Dominion).
Smartmatic was used in only Los Angeles County, but Fox falsely pushed claims that it was used elsewhere in 2020
Smartmatic was used only in one county during the 2020 presidential election: Los Angeles County. LA County leans heavily Democratic, with President Joe Biden winning 71% of the vote in 2020 and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton winning 72% of the vote in 2016. Giuliani and Powell baselessly and falsely claimed that Smartmatic was widely used throughout the country during the 2020 election and that its use was one of the reasons why Trump lost.
- Trump campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani: Smartmatic’s owners have “a terrible record and they are extremely hackable. … What the heck was Georgia doing hiring this company?” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/12/20]
- After Fox anchor Maria Bartiromo asked if states that used Smartmatic software used a “backdoor” to change votes, Giuliani said: “I can prove that they did it in Michigan. I can prove it with witnesses. We’re investigating the rest. In every one of those states, though, we have more than enough illegal ballots already documented to overturn the result in that state. Because not only did they use a Venezuelan company to count our ballots, which almost should be illegal per se. … Now, they didn’t do it everywhere. They did it in big cities where they have corrupt machines that will protect them. Meaning in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, in Detroit. They didn’t have to do it in Chicago, in New York or Boston. They could have, they have corrupt machines there. They did it absolutely in Phoenix, Arizona. They did it absolutely in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Republicans were shut out from enough of the count so they could accomplish what Smartmatic wanted to do. And that pattern that you have there, we have evidence that that’s the same pattern Smartmatic used in other elections in which they were disqualified.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 11/15/20]
- Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell claimed Dominion Voting Systems machines used “Smartmatic software” and falsely claimed Smartmatic was used in multiple states in the 2020 election. She demanded that “every state that bought Dominion” machines “should have a criminal investigation or at least a serious investigation of the officers in the states who bought the software. We have even got evidence of some kickbacks, essentially.” Bartiromo replied: “I want to ask you about the kickbacks and who took kickbacks in which states.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 11/15/20]
- Powell: “We know that one of the Smartmatic people has went to Tarrant County, Texas, and turned that county blue after having been an executive with Smartmatic and all of a sudden this one election, Tarrant County, is purportedly blue. We have evidence of how they flipped the votes, how it was designed to flip the votes, and that all of it has been happening just as we have been saying it has been.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 12/10/20]
- Powell: “We're seeing the results in multiple states where we're now identifying specific votes flipped, like in a couple of Georgia counties. In fact, Coffee County, Georgia, just yesterday, I believe, refused to certify the results of the election in Coffee County because of the vote disparities and flipping. We're getting more and more evidence out of other counties across the country about the same kind of conduct. We knew from Antrim County, for example, in Michigan, that 6,000 votes magically were flipped on election night. I think the cause of that is going to become more and more apparent as we proceed in the investigation.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 12/10/20]
Fox figures falsely claimed that Smartmatic was responsible for nonexistent nationwide election fraud
In the days and weeks following the 2020 election, Fox personalities invoked Smartmatic — along with other voting technology companies — to baselessly claim that the election was stolen from Trump. Time and time again, the “Big Lie,” has been debunked: There was no widespread voter fraud and the election was not “stolen” from Trump. Not only was the 2020 election the “most secure [election] in American history,” but even Trump’s own campaign research firm concluded that Trump’s claims of election fraud were incorrect. And state and federal courts dismissed more than 50 lawsuits brought by Trump and his allies challenging the election.
- Powell: “We’re talking about the alteration and changes in millions of votes. Some being dumped that were for President Trump, some being flipped that were for President Trump. Computers being overwritten to ignore signatures, all kinds of different means of manipulating the Dominion and Smartmatic software that of course we would not expect Dominion or Smartmatic to admit.” [Fox News, Justice with Judge Jeanine, 11/14/20]
- Bartiromo recklessly claimed: “One source says that the key point to understand is that the Smartmatic system has a back door that allows it to be, or that allows the votes to be mirrored and monitored, allowing an intervening party a real-time understanding of how many votes will be needed to gain an electoral advantage.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 11/15/20]
- After falsely claiming that “President Trump won by not just hundreds of thousands of votes, but by millions of votes that were shifted by this software that was designed expressly for that purpose,” Powell furthered her baseless allegation by saying, “This is a massive election fraud, and I'm very concerned it involved not only Dominion and its Smartmatic software, but that the software essentially was used by other election machines also. It's the software that was the problem.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 11/15/20]
- After falsely claiming that Smartmatic is “U.K.-based” and “had ties to Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez,” then-Fox Business host Lou Dobbs later said: “This is a nation that has just been wronged mightily. Only an idiot would try to claim that there were no irregularities, that there were no anomalies, that there were insufficient evidence and documents suggesting fraud and inexplicable mathematical ratios that tell us very quickly, there’s something terrible afoot here.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/16/20]
- Bartiromo said to Giuliani: “And what are you finding so far? What do you think went on here? Because when we spoke on Sunday, we talked about the software made by Smartmatic that was changing votes from Trump to Biden.” [Fox News, Mornings with Maria, 11/17/20]
- After baselessly asserting that votes cast using Dominion Voting Systems’ were sent to Smartmatic to be tabulated abroad, Giuliani furthered his lie by claiming that Smartmatic helped “fix elections” abroad and that “they did all their old tricks,” during the 2020 election since “that’s the company that was counting and calculating on election night.” Dobbs continued to push the false narrative by claiming, “It's outrageous, and it's all the more outrageous because Dominion and Smartmatic were denied use in the state of Texas, which called them out for what they are.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/18/20]
- Citing “a whistleblower’s stunning affidavit,” Dobbs said that “Smartmatic’s technology was used to rig elections in Venezuela. It is now in the, quote, ‘DNA of every vote-tabulating company’s software and system.’” He added: “Smartmatic and Dominion deny those charges. But Sidney Powell argues that algorithms in the Smartmatic software were used to change results in the presidential election.” [Fox News, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/19/20]
- Powell linked Smartmatic to “the connections with the Chinese and other countries that were attacking us in this massive cyber Pearl Harbor, as we called it.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 12/10/20]
Fox pushed bizarre claims that votes on Smartmatic machines were sent to foreign countries to be counted
Fox guests and hosts pushed a baseless and fabricated narrative that Smartmatic sent votes cast during the 2020 election to foreign countries, such as Spain and Germany, to be tabulated. As noted in Smartmatic's lawsuit against Fox, votes were not sent abroad: Votes cast in Los Angeles County were tabulated in Los Angeles County.
- After Giuliani linked Smartmatic to progressive philanthropist George Soros — a right-wing boogeyman frequently targeted by antisemitic tropes — Dobbs suggested that Smartmatic may have had servers in Canada, Spain, or Germany, and “they’re processing our votes.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/12/20]
- Giuliani: “Dominion is a Canadian company, but all of its software is Smartmatic's software. So the votes actually go to Barcelona, Spain.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/12/20]
- Giuliani: “Our votes in 27, 28 states that are counted by Dominion and calculated and analyzed, they’re sent outside the United States. And they’re not sent to Canada; they’re sent to Germany and Spain. And the company counting it is not Dominion. It’s Smartmatic, which is a company that was founded in 2005 in Venezuela for the specific purpose of fixing elections.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/18/20]
- Giuliani claimed that there was voter fraud committed in Detroit, and it was done “because they were being notified by Smartmatic in Frankfurt that Biden was way behind and they better come up with a lot more ballots, and we can prove every single thing I just said.” [Fox News, Hannity, 11/19/20]
- For Business host Lou Dobbs and Powell alleged that votes counted by Smartmatic were sent to servers in Germany and/or Spain, citing a fictitious raid on a company’s servers in Germany. Dobbs said: “There has been great controversy as well, as you know, about the reports of a raid on a company, Scytl, in Germany, which held election data, presumably, and a raid that was carried out by U.S. forces, or so goes the report, although the forces themselves were not clearly identified, nor the event actually proven.” Powell replied: “Well, I know that is one of the server centers. There's also one in Barcelona. So it is related to the entire Smartmatic-Dominion software operation.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/19/20]
- Fox host Jeanine Pirro: “The president's lawyers alleging a company called Dominion, which they say started in Venezuela with Cuban money and with the assistance of Smartmatic software, a backdoor is capable of flipping votes. And the president's lawyers alleging that American votes in a presidential election are actually counted in a foreign country. These are serious allegations, but the media has no interest in any of this.” [Fox News, Justice with Judge Jeanine, 11/21/20]
Fox pushed false claims that Smartmatic is a foreign company
Multiple Fox hosts and guests repeatedly pushed a frequently debunked claim that Smartmatic has an improper current relationship with the Venezuelan government or other foreign dictators. Conservative media personalities drew this baseless connection to peddle the claim that Smartmatic’s technology is compromised and used to “fix elections.” In reality, Smartmatic does not have an improper current relationship with the Venezuelan government nor with other foreign governments. Smartmatic’s founders are from Venezuela and the company’s technology has been used in Venezuela, but the company is incorporated in Florida. And Smartmatic has not been afraid to be vocal about election interference, previously accusing the Venezuelan government of meddling in the 2017 election there.
- Powell: “This affidavit also explains [Smartmatic] had been used to change election results all over the world. And it's all Venezuelan and Cuban and essentially communist money that's been doing this. It's a foreign-owned company, as you mentioned earlier.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/16/20]
- Giuliani: “The company counting” votes is “Smartmatic, which is a company that was founded in 2005 in Venezuela for the specific purpose of fixing elections. That’s their expertise, how to fix elections.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/18/20]
- Giuliani told Dobbs that Smartmatic “was founded by [late Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez to call votes in America because their specialty in Venezuela is cheating.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/18/20]
- Fox host Jesse Watters: Smartmatic “did supply voting machines to the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez” and the company is “foreign-owned” by “a dual Spanish-Venezuelan national.” [Fox News, Watters’ World, 11/21/20]
- Bartiromo: “Smartmatic election software was developed, Sidney Powell says, in Venezuela, with porous security and built-in functionality allowing the administrators to override security features.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 11/22/20]
- Powell: “We've known from early on in our independent investigation that the entire system was created for the benefit of Venezuela and Hugo Chavez to rig elections to make sure he continued winning. And then it was passed on to Mr. Maduro to do the same.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 12/10/20]
Fox falsely claimed that Smartmatic and Dominion were related companies
Fox repeatedly pushed lies about Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems, baselessly claiming that Dominion owned Smartmatic through a Spanish company, Indra Sistemas. Some also claimed that Dominion is a Canadian company. Both narratives are false. Smartmatic, Dominion, and Indra are not related and have no connection to each other. In fact, Smartmatic and Dominion are “fierce competitor[s].” And Dominion is not Canadian; it is owned by a New York private equity firm.
- Giuliani: “Dominion is a company that’s owned by another company called Smartmatic, through an intermediary company named Indra. Smartmatic is a company that was formed way back in about 2004 — 2003, 2004. You’re going to be astonished when I tell you how it was formed. … It was formed in order to fix elections. That’s the company that owns Dominion. Dominion is a Canadian company but all of its software is Smartmatic software, so the votes actually go to Barcelona, Spain.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/12/20]
- Bartiromo: “There is much to understand about Smartmatic, which owns Dominion Voting Systems. They have businesses in Venezuela, Caracas. They have businesses in Cuba, and there are also links to China.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 11/15/20]
- Giuliani: “I don’t think people have any idea of the dimension of the national security problem that Dominion creates. … And the software that they use is done by a company called Smartmatic. … But Dominion sends everything to Smartmatic. Can you believe it?” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 11/15/20]
- Fox anchor Bill Hemmer said of Trump’s lawyers: “So they are saying the company Dominion has a software called Smartmatic.” Fox contributor Andrew McCarthy replied that “Smartmatic says it’s not true. … Smartmatic says they have no connection to Dominion” but claimed he didn’t “have a way of knowing or brokering that claim -- whether it's true or whether it’s not true.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 11/16/20]
- Powell: Smartmatic and Dominion are “definitely linked. I would call them inextricably intertwined. They have the same history from their inception. … But the fact is that the Dominion machines run the Smartmatic software, or parts of the key code of it. And that is what allows them to manipulate the votes in any way the operators choose to manipulate them.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/19/20]