WASHINGTON (AP) – Dominion Voting Systems filed a $ 1.6 billion libel lawsuit against Fox News on Friday.

The lawsuit is part of a growing body of lawsuits filed by the electoral society, as well as other targets of misleading, false, and bizarre allegations made against Joe Biden by President Donald Trump and his allies following Trump’s election loss. These allegations helped spark rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 in a violent siege that killed five people, including a police officer. The siege led to Trump’s historic second impeachment.

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Dominion argues that Fox News, which reinforced inaccurate claims that Dominion changed the votes, “sold a false story of electoral fraud for its own commercial purposes, seriously injuring Dominion in the process,” according to a copy of the lawsuit by The Associated Press.

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“The truth is important. Lies have consequences, ”the lawsuit said. “… If this case does not lead to defamation by a broadcaster, then do nothing.”

Prior to Dominion’s lawsuit on Friday, Fox News had filed four motions to dismiss other legal action against its coverage. And anchor Eric Shawn interviewed a Dominion spokesperson on the air in November.

“Fox News Media is proud of our coverage of the 2020 election, in the highest tradition of American journalism, and we will vigorously defend this unsubstantiated lawsuit in court,” said a statement on Friday.

There was no known widespread fraud in the 2020 election, which has been confirmed by a number of election officials across the country – and even Trump’s Attorney General William Barr. Republican governors in Arizona and Georgia, key battlefield states crucial to Biden’s victory, also vouched for the integrity of the elections in their states. Almost all of Trump and his allies’ legal challenges have been dismissed by judges, including two thrown out by the Supreme Court, which has three Trump-nominated judges.

However, some Fox News employees made false allegations that Dominion changed votes using algorithms in its voting machines created in Venezuela to rig elections for the late dictator Hugo Chavez. On-air personalities brought in Trump allies Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani to spread the allegations, and then reinforced those allegations on Fox News’ massive social media platforms.

Dominion said in the lawsuit that it made repeated attempts to correct the record but was ignored by Fox News.

The company argues that Fox News, a network of several pro-Trump personalities, pushed the false claims to explain the former president’s loss. The cable giant lost viewers after the election and was viewed by Trump and some supporters as insufficiently supportive of the Republican.

Dominion lawyers said Fox News’ behavior was very different from that of other media outlets reporting the allegations.

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“This was a conscious, knowing business decision to support, iterate, and spread those lies to keep the audience,” said Susman Godfrey’s attorney Justin Nelson.

Although Dominion serves 28 states, it was largely unknown outside of the electoral community until the 2020 elections. It has now become widespread in conservative circles and is considered by millions of people as one of the main villains in a fictional story where Democrats nationwide conspired to steal Trump’s votes.

Dominion employees, from software engineers to founders, have been harassed. Some received death threats. And the company has “suffered enormous and irreparable economic damage,” lawyers said.

One employee, Eric Coomer, told the AP he had to go into hiding because of the false allegations of death threats. He has sued the Trump campaign, conservative media columnists, and conservative media outlets like Newsmax and One America News Network.

Dominion has also sued Giuliani, Powell, and the CEO of MyPillow in Minnesota over the claims. A competing technology company, Smartmatic USA, sued Fox News over voting claims for a similar amount of money. Unlike Dominion, Smartmatic’s participation in the 2020 election was limited to Los Angeles County. Fox News has dismissed the Smartmatic suit.

Dominion attorneys said they have not yet filed lawsuits against certain media personalities on Fox News, but the door remains open. Some at Fox News knew the claims were false, but their comments were drowned out, lawyers said.

“The money stays with Fox,” said attorney Stephen Shackelford. “Fox made the decision to install this on all of its many platforms. They re-broadcast it and republished it on social media and other places. “

The lawsuit was filed in Delaware, where both companies are incorporated, although Fox News is headquartered in New York and Dominion is based in Denver.

FROM COLLEEN LONG

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