The lawsuits are the latest chapter in a sprawling legal battle spawned by the contentious presidential election, which has pitted firms — including Smartmatic — that sell electronic voting machines and software in the United States against Trump supporters and Trump-friendly news outlets.
Smartmatic has fought back via the courts and in public statements against the unproved claims pushed by an alternative media ecosphere, including Newsmax and One America News (OAN), that it helped to tip the election toward Joe Biden.
Smartmatic sued each news company separately. It filed against Newsmax in the Superior Court of Delaware and against Herring Networks, the parent company of OAN, in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging defamation and demanding a jury trial in each case. The suits were filed Nov. 3, 2021, to coincide with the first anniversary of the 2020 presidential election, Smartmatic said in a news release.
The complaints allege that the networks homed in on two election technology companies, Smartmatic and Dominion, and spread baseless claims that their software and voting machines were responsible in various instances of alleged election manipulation and fraud. “They had no evidence that Smartmatic or Dominion had done anything wrong,” the complaints state. “But casting Smartmatic and Dominion as the villains made for a good story.”
In its suit against Newsmax, Smartmatic alleges that the network, in a bid to challenge Fox News from the right, knowingly spread untrue or unsubstantiated claims popular with viewers “indicating that Smartmatic participated in a criminal conspiracy to rig and steal the 2020 U.S. election and that its technology and software were used to switch votes” from Trump to Biden.
Smartmatic says the claims it challenges as false include that Smartmatic voter software was more widely used than it actually was; that its technology was compromised during the election; that Smartmatic was founded in Venezuela to serve nefarious foreign interests; and that “Smartmatic fixed, rigged, and stole the 2020 U.S. election for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”
“It is not easy to climb the ladder and get to the top,” Smartmatic’s complaint against Newsmax states. “It is even harder to climb if one is following the rules when others are not. Newsmax has long wanted to ascend the viewership ladder. It has now shown that it will cross legal and ethical lines to climb the ladder and push off the one at the top.”
Newsmax fired back against the lawsuit. “While Newsmax has yet to review the Smartmatic filing, Newsmax reported accurately on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the President, his advisors and members of Congress, as well as reporting on Smartmatic’s claims in its defense,” Anthony Rizzo, a spokesman for Newsmax, wrote in an emailed statement.
“Smartmatic’s action against Newsmax today is a clear attempt to squelch the rights of a free press. Newsmax may have additional comment on the suit later.”
Smartmatic’s suit against OAN owner Herring Networks claims that the network, unlike its competitors Newsmax and Fox News, “doubled down” on its unsubstantiated allegations of fraud after Smartmatic demanded that it retract those allegations, and kept at it even after Biden took office as president. OAN aired documentaries produced by Mike Lindell, a fervent Trump supporter and the founder and chief executive of MyPillow, claiming without evidence that the election was manipulated with the help of Smartmatic voting technology, the complaint states.
OAN did not respond to a Washington Post request for comment.
In August, Dominion also filed lawsuits against Newsmax and OAN, claiming that the networks defamed it by spreading and endorsing false reports that it helped steal the 2020 election from Trump.
In February, Smartmatic also sued Fox News, as well as some of its hosts and guests, including Trump’s former personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, claiming defamation over similar allegations.
Dominion also sued Fox News in March, alleging defamation. Fox News moved to dismiss both lawsuits against the network.