Election know-how firm Smartmatic is asking for Fox, Newsmax, OAN to withdraw over conspiracy theories
Antonio Mugica, CEO of Smartmatic, poses near the Houses of Parliament in London, UK on December 11, 2020. The photo was taken on December 11, 2020.
Henry Nicholls | Reuters
Smartmatic, the electoral technology company embroiled in unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about rigged votes in the 2020 presidential contest, announced Monday that there are three conservative media outlets demanding withdrawals "for posting false and defamatory statements" legal evidence.
The Florida-based company has been targeted by President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who leads the Trump campaign's long-term attempts to undo Joe Biden's proposed presidential victory.
A press release from Smartmatic stated in its letters to Fox News, Newsmax and One America News Network that the company "has reserved all of its legal rights and remedies, including its right to bring claims of defamation and degradation."
The legal notice to Fox, shared with CNBC, accuses the news agency of "participating in a concerted disinformation campaign against Smartmatic".
This 20-page letter cites dozens of allegations, most of them from Giuliani and attorney Sidney Powell, who was previously involved in the campaign and who filed several unsuccessful fraud lawsuits in the major swing states won by Biden, on Fox & # 39; shipment were collected.
Most of these statements were made in mid-November in programs moderated by Maria Bartiromo or Lou Dobbs. Both are also accused of making their own defamatory claims about Smartmatic. In addition, the letter contains references to statements about a Fox program moderated by Jeanine Pirro and a statement by Fox presenter Jesse Watters.
"This is the first in a series of steps we are taking to defend our company against unfounded attacks designed to damage our reputation as a means of undermining confidence in the election results," said Antonio Mugica, CEO of Smartmatic, in a statement opposite CNBC.
"We're going to lose billions of dollars in business in the years to come due to these baseless attacks on our company," said Mugica.
Smartmatic's attorney will also be sending letters to Giuliani and Powell, according to a FAQ page that a company spokeswoman said will soon be posted on its website.
Smartmatic was accused, among other things, of partnering with Dominion Voting Systems to cheat in favor of Biden in the November presidential election.
The company has flatly denied this alleged connection. "There are no connections between Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic – plain and simple," the company says on a fact-checking page on its website. While Dominion software was used in several states and counties in the 2020 election, it will only operate in Los Angeles County, according to Smartmatic.
Dominion has also contested various claims against it. Trump himself specifically voiced suspicions of Dominion in a 46-minute video posted on his social media in early December.
"Also, we have a company that is very suspicious. It's called Dominion. If you turn a dial or change a chip you can push a button for Trump and the vote goes to Biden. What kind of system is that?" Said Trump in this video.
The president refuses to admit Biden despite his campaign and allies losing dozens of court battles, including a critical recent loss in the U.S. Supreme Court aimed at overturning the elections. Trump falsely claims he won the race a few days before Monday when electoral college voters began voting in their respective states to make Biden's victory official.
Smartmatic's letter to Fox also identifies numerous other allegations and implications as "false and defamatory," including the fact that the company is corruptly affiliated with Venezuela and that the company sent US votes overseas to tabulate them .
The letter to Fox states that Smartmatic "is not involved in the tabulation and results reporting processes" and adds, "The technology is not controlled by a server outside the US and no votes have been or could not be transmitted outside the US."
Smartmatic's founders were born in Venezuela, but the company itself was founded in Boca Raton, Florida and claims that it currently has no offices in Venezuela.
"Fox News had no right to defame my client while reporting on the 2020 US election," Benesch Law's attorney J. Erik Connolly said in the letter.
"Smartmatic requires full and complete withdrawal of all false and defamatory statements," wrote Connolly, adding that such withdrawal must be "with the same intensity and scope that you originally defamed the company."
"This letter serves as an indication of my client's possible legal claims against Fox News, its reporters, anchors, producers, and on-air guests."
Fox and OAN spokespersons did not immediately respond to CNBC's requests for comments on Smartmatic's actions. Powell, Giuliani, and the Trump campaign also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A statement by Newsmax states: "Newsmax itself has never made any claim of inappropriateness to Smartmatic, its property or its software."
"Individuals, including the plaintiff's attorneys, congressmen and others, have appeared on Newsmax and raised questions about the company and its voting software, citing legal documents or previously published reports about Smartmatic," the Newsmax statement said.
"Like any large media company, we provide a forum for public concerns and discussion. In the past, we have welcomed Smartmatic and its representatives to counter claims they believe are and will continue to be inaccurate."
In a statement accompanying the press release on Monday morning, Mugica said the three news outlets "have no evidence of their attacks on Smartmatic because there is no evidence".
"This campaign is an attack on electoral systems and electoral workers to reduce confidence in future elections and possibly to counter the will of voters not only here but also in democracies around the world," Mugica said.