Fox also argues that Smartmatic should be considered a public figure. That argument, which is likely to be contested by the tech company, means that Smartmatic must meet a high bar to prove that it was defamed: demonstrating that the defendants knew their statements were false, or at least had serious doubts about them.
Smartmatic’s 276-page lawsuit alleges that Mr. Trump’s lawyers used Fox’s platform, and its sympathetic anchors, to spin conspiracies about the company that damaged its reputation and commercial prospects. The suit has been applauded by those seeking to curb the flow of disinformation from right-wing news outlets, but it has also raised questions about the limits of speech in a changing media landscape.
Fox’s argument in its motion — that it provided a forum for newsworthy interviews — may cut into the conceptual heart of Smartmatic’s case, which groups Fox, its hosts and their guests as defendants who collaborated to spread falsehoods.
The defamation lawsuit cites exchanges on Fox programs that, Smartmatic said, helped spread the false claim that it was the owner of a rival election tech company, Dominion Voting System, and that it provided its services to districts in multiple contested states. In fact, Smartmatic was used in the 2020 election only by Los Angeles County.
And Smartmatic offers vivid examples of Fox programming that spread bizarre falsehoods, like a claim by Ms. Powell made on Mr. Dobbs’s show that the former president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, had assisted the company in creating software that could covertly alter votes. (Mr. Chávez died in 2013 and had nothing to do with Smartmatic.)
In other exchanges cited by Smartmatic, Fox anchors alternately expressed support and astonishment as Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell spun out their claims. In one case, a phrase used by Ms. Powell — “cyber Pearl Harbor” — was later invoked by Mr. Dobbs on his show and on social media.
Fox’s response on Monday included a 14-page appendix under the title “Fox’s Evenhanded Coverage of Smartmatic,” documenting instances from Fox News and Fox Business that the company believes showed skepticism toward the Trump team’s claims.