Smartmatic said in the complaint that the promotion of false claims on Fox “jeopardized” its “multibillion-dollar pipeline of business”; damaged its election technology and software businesses; and made it difficult for the company to get new business in the U.S., where it had made inroads after years of servicing elections in other nations.
Fox declined to comment before seeing the suit. Ms. Bartiromo, Mr. Dobbs, Ms. Pirro, Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell did not reply immediately to request for comment.
In its frontal attack on Mr. Murdoch’s media empire, Smartmatic argues that Fox cast it as a villain in a fictitious narrative meant to help win back viewers from Newsmax and OANN. Each saw ratings surge in the weeks after the election thanks to their embrace of the fiction that Mr. Biden was not the rightful victor. The Smartmatic suit also argues that Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell sought to enrich themselves and improve their standing with Mr. Trump’s supporters by making claims that were damaging to the company.
Fox Corporation, with about 9,000 employees, is run by Mr. Murdoch, 89, and his elder son, Lachlan, its chief executive. For the company, $2.7 billion would be a hefty penalty. Fox Corporation made $3 billion in pretax profit on $12.3 billion in revenue from September 2019 to September of last year. It is valued at about $17.8 billion.
Smartmatic’s complaint takes into account not only the reputational and financial damage the company said it had suffered, but also the harm done to the United States by the claims promoted by Mr. Trump’s allies and the Murdoch-controlled networks he had long favored.
Mr. Dobbs, a Fox Business Network anchor, and Ms. Bartiromo, who hosts shows on Fox Business and Fox News, have been staunch supporters of the former president. On Nov. 29, Ms. Bartiromo conducted Mr. Trump’s first lengthy TV interview after the election. Ms. Pirro, a onetime prosecutor whose “Justice with Judge Jeanine” is a staple of Fox New’s Saturday night lineup, has been friends with Mr. Trump for decades.
Among the on-air exchanges the Smartmatic suit highlights is one between Ms. Powell and Mr. Dobbs on Nov. 16. Ms. Powell claimed on Mr. Dobbs’s show that Hugo Chávez, the deceased president of Venezuela, had a hand in the creation of Smartmatic technology, designing it so that the votes it processed could be changed undetected. (Mr. Chávez, who died in 2013, did not have anything to do with Smartmatic.)