NOEL KING, HOST:
The voting technology company Smartmatic starts its lawsuit against Fox News and some of its biggest stars by stating some facts - the Earth is round; two plus two equals four; Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the 2020 election for president and vice president of the United States; the election was not stolen, rigged or fixed. The suit alleges Fox ignored the facts and spread disinformation about Smartmatic that has devastated the company's bottom line. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik joined us to talk about that lawsuit and the company behind it.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Smartmatic is a voting elections tech and software company started by a young Venezuelan about two decades ago.
KING: And what are the details of the lawsuit?
FOLKENFLIK: Well, these details are pungent. Smartmatic is alleging that Fox News and three of its key hosts, Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro, as well as two of the president's legal advisers who appeared frequently on Fox after the election, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, created and amplified and rooted a broad-ranging allegation that there was an effort to steal this election from then-President Donald Trump through switching votes or through suppressing votes or through essentially a broad conspiracy, particularly in key states - think Arizona and Georgia and Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan - in a way that would favor Joe Biden. It's not an accident that Dobbs and Pirro and Bartiromo are among the president's strongest advocates on the air and closest advisers off the air. And they've been part of this - essentially the Trump camp on this.
There's been no evidence that have stood up about these allegations. And what's really astonishing is Smartmatic was really involved in essentially one jurisdiction in the nation for the 2020 elections, and that was in Los Angeles County. So essentially, Smartmatic was involved in the voting in one jurisdiction in the nation in a state that was going to go for Joe Biden no matter what happened. The idea that they were at the core of some conspiracy to steal votes, none of which has been proven, seems, on its face, absurd.
KING: Let me ask you something. The Fox News anchors that you mentioned, these are like household names - Rudy Giuliani, a household name. Have any of these people responded yet?
FOLKENFLIK: Giuliani says he welcomes the suit and he welcomes discovery. That's the process by which you get information from the other side in the litigation. Fox News says it's meritless. It's also saying it's proud of its coverage, that they've offered full context with in-depth reporting and clear opinion. That's their official statement. I think that that word opinion is important here. I think they're intending to lean on that - to say, look; we've got a clear delineation from their reporting on election results and from people who are offering just their own points of view.
KING: Two-point-seven billion dollars is no small amount of money, although I don't really know much about Fox's bottom line. Could this have a real impact on Fox News?
FOLKENFLIK: While they make a ton of money, that's more than any year's profits they've ever made, to my understanding. But, you know, the implications here are, are there any consequences for the kinds of misinformation, disinformation that they either propagate or amplify, whether it's on Seth Rich, who they had to pay a ton of money to the parents of a guy who was killed - wrongly claimed was involved in leaking emails? Are there consequences for incendiary rhetoric that helped influence people who appeared on the 6 of January as part of the protest that became deadly at Capitol Hill? That's the kind of question here that I think people are facing at Fox News.
KING: NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik. Thanks, David.
FOLKENFLIK: You bet.
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