Motion Argues “Smartmatic’s 285-page, $2.7 Billion Complaint is not Just Meritless; it is a Legal Shakedown Designed to Chill Speech and Punish Reporting”
Actions Follow FOX News Media’s Motion to Dismiss Filing on Monday
NEW YORK – February 12, 2021 – FOX News Media’s Maria Bartiromo, Judge Jeanine Pirro and former host Lou Dobbs filed separate motions to dismiss on Thursday night in response to the lawsuit by electronic voting company Smartmatic. The filings follow FOX News Media’s earlier motion to dismiss, which was filed on Monday, February 8th.
FOX News Media commented, “Smartmatic’s headline-seeking, multi-billion-dollar lawsuit thus should be seen—and rejected—for what it is: an unconstitutional attempt by a money-losing company (Smartmatic reported $17 million in losses on just $144 million in revenue in 2019) to try to refill its coffers at the expense of our constitutional traditions.”
The Bartiromo filing, which joins the motion to dismiss filed by FOX News Media earlier this week, further outlines the constitutional problems at the heart of the Smartmatic lawsuit, noting, “Not only has Smartmatic failed to identify anything that could form the basis of a defamation (or disparagement) claim against Bartiromo; it has failed even to adequately plead actual malice.” Notably, the motion points out that, as a “veteran news anchor,” “Maria Bartiromo did her job: She covered the unquestionably newsworthy story” which is fully protected by the First Amendment as it “entitles journalists like Bartiromo to interview people on both sides of a heated and actively litigated controversy (one or the other of which is shading the truth—if not both), so that objectively newsworthy claims can be tested in the crucible of robust debate.” Furthermore, the motion reveals that Bartiromo “invited her other guests to comment on and criticize the President’s claims – an invitation that Smartmatic was extended but ignored,” proving the fact that Smartmatic’s headline-seeking, multi-billion-dollar lawsuit “is, in short, exactly the kind of lawsuit that both the First Amendment and New York’s anti-SLAPP law are designed to eliminate at the threshold.”
As further demonstrated in the Pirro motion, the Smartmatic lawsuit should be dismissed “for its abject failure to make sufficient allegations concerning Pirro herself.” The motion outlines the fact that Pirro’s coverage of “President Trump’s claims and the efforts made by his legal team to challenge the election results both in court and in the public realm” are “matters of public concern and widespread importance” which “lies at the heart of the First Amendment and the protections New York affords through its recently amended anti-SLAPP law.” Additionally, “The constitutional protection for the free press and related concepts like the fair-report and neutral-report doctrines exist precisely to shield commentary like Pirro’s from the threat of lawsuits seeking massive damages.”
The Dobbs motion again illustrates the constitutional issues stemming from the Smartmatic allegations. Noting “by interviewing members of the President’s legal team and offering opinions on their allegations,” former host Lou Dobbs “was fully exercising his rights as a member of the press to address matters of public interest.” Additionally, the motion points to the fact that the Smartmatic complaint “comes nowhere close to alleging the type of intent required to pierce First Amendment protections and hold a commentator liable for reporting on newsworthy matters of the highest order” and should therefore “be dismissed as antithetical to the First Amendment and inconsistent with our nation’s proud heritage of giving the media broad latitude to offer opinion and commentary on newsworthy matters.” In conclusion, the filing demonstrates the fact that “If a wide-open, robust debate ultimately reveals that one side could back up their allegations, that is a sign that the First Amendment is working. It should be a cause for celebration, not an excuse for an outsized lawsuit.”
The three additional motions to dismiss were filed by Kirkland & Ellis on behalf of Maria Bartiromo, Judge Jeanine Pirro and former host Lou Dobbs, and join FOX News Media’s previous filing from Monday, which stated the Smartmatic complaint sought to “stifle that debate and chill vital First Amendment activities.”
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