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Fox board members subpoenaed in Smartmatic’s defamation lawsuit over 2020 election lies

CNN  —  Four Fox Corporation board members have been subpoenaed in voting technology company Smartmatic’s $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News over its airing of 2020 election lies, alleging executives at the right-wing cable channel’s parent company knew it was spreading false claims. In a court filing Monday, Smartmatic subpoenaed the four board members — Anne Dias, Charles Carey, Roland Hernandez, Jacques Nasser — over Fox News’s repeated airing of bogus conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. “Accountability and responsibility do not stop with Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch,” Smartmatic lead attorney Erik Connolly said in a statement. “Smartmatic plans to pursue Fox’s board members as well to determine why they allowed the company’s most valuable asset, Fox News, to spread disinformation about the 2020 election.” New York Judge David Cohen had previously ordered Fox Corporation to turn over documents related to the board members in the case. Rupert Murdoch, the right-wing media mogul who founded Fox Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, was also deposed late last year. A Fox spokesperson did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment. Over the years, members of the Fox Corporation board have opted to stay silent as the right-wing network has faced controversy, ignoring questions from CNN and others over whether they condoned some of the offensive rhetoric on the channel. In a previous filing, Smartmatic alleged the board members “witnessed Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch’s control of Fox News; exchanged relevant emails that Smartmatic has used in depositions and will mark as trial exhibits; attended meetings during and after Fox News broadcast the defamatory publications; and discussed the 2020 election and the competitive threats Fox News faced to its brand.” Former President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a dinner with members of the group Conserve the Culture at his Mar-a-Lago estate, Wednesday, June 5, 2024, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) Wilfredo Lee/AP Related article Trump puts forward new effort to throw out classified documents case The subpoenas come after Cohen ruled earlier this year that Smartmatic could also move forward with its lawsuit against Fox Corporation in addition to Fox News, dealing a blow to Fox’s corporate leadership, including the powerful Murdoch family. The lawsuit, which was filed in New York State court in the wake of the 2020 election, accuses Fox News and some of the right-wing channel’s hosts of intentionally lying about Smartmatic in an effort to mislead the public into the false belief that the 2020 presidential election was rigged for then-candidate Joe Biden. “They needed a villain,” the lawsuit said. “They needed someone to blame. They needed someone whom they could get others to hate. A story of good versus evil, the type that would incite an angry mob, only works if the storyteller provides the audience with someone who personifies evil.” “Without any true villain, defendants invented one,” the lawsuit added. “Defendants decided to make Smartmatic the villain in their story.” Last year, Fox News reached a historic $787 million settlement with another voting technology company, Dominion Voting Systems, over the right-wing channel’s lies about the 2020 election. Fox News has previously denied defaming anyone and claimed that Smartmatic’s lawsuit is an assault on the First Amendment. “We will be ready to defend this case surrounding extremely newsworthy events when it goes to trial, likely in 2025,” a Fox News spokesperson previously told CNN in a statement. “As a report prepared by our financial expert shows, Smartmatic’s damages claims are implausible, disconnected from reality, and on their face intended to chill First Amendment freedoms.”