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Fox agrees to give more Murdoch docs to Smartmatic in its defamation case

<i>Julio Cortez/AP</i><br/>Fox News will give Smartmatic additional documents about Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch
Julio Cortez/AP
Fox News will give Smartmatic additional documents about Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch

By Marshall Cohen, CNN

Fox News has agreed to provide voting technology company Smartmatic with additional material about its corporate chairman Rupert Murdoch and other top executives, as part of Smartmatic’s $2.7 billion lawsuit against the right-wing network.

The agreement was announced Wednesday at a court hearing in Manhattan regarding the defamation case, which stems from Fox’s airing of 2020 election lies. New York Supreme Court Judge David Cohen scheduled the hearing after Smartmatic raised concerns about whether Fox was complying with its pretrial obligations to turn over relevant evidence.

“We will produce the materials as quickly as we are able to,” Fox lawyer Winn Allen said.

Fox also will give documents to Smartmatic related to Rupert Murdoch’s son Lachlan Murdoch, who is the CEO of Fox Corporation, as well as relevant materials about Chief Legal Officer Viet Dinh and Raj Shah, a former Trump administration official who is now a vice president at Fox Corporation

These materials will include deposition transcripts and exhibits, apparently from the recently settled defamation case involving Dominion Voting Systems, a Smartmatic lawyer said in court.

The judge had already agreed to a “broadening of discovery,” according to a ruling issued Tuesday, where he ordered Fox to make additional materials available, including information about the network’s 2020 ratings and about its internal fact-check team. But Smartmatic wanted more.

In a letter to the judge, Smartmatic lawyers said they “noticed obvious gaps” among the records Fox Corporation has already provided. They claim the right-wing outlet might be holding back material about the Murdochs.

Fox lawyers said in recent court filings that they’re complying with all court orders and pointed out that Fox Corporation has already produced more than 30,000 documents to Smartmatic.

The monster case pits Smartmatic against Fox News, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Fox hosts Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, and former host Lou Dobbs, who all promoted the baseless lie that Smartmatic rigged the 2020 election. An appeals court recently dropped Fox Corporation as a defendant, but Smartmatic refiled its lawsuit and is trying to re-add the parent company.

These figures falsely claimed Smartmatic was created to steal elections for former Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, and that a global cabal of Democrats and socialists used Smartmatic software to flip millions of votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. (In truth, there wasn’t any widespread fraud in 2020, and Smartmatic’s machines were only used in one county that year.)

With the Dominion litigation settled, Smartmatic’s suit is the biggest pending defamation case against Fox News. The global voting technology company wants $2.7 billion in damages. Fox denies wrongdoing and has accused Smartmatic of trying undermine the First Amendment.

“We will be ready to defend this case surrounding extremely newsworthy events when it goes to trial, likely in 2025,” a Fox network spokesperson said in a statement. “As a report prepared by our financial expert shows, Smartmatic’s damages claims are implausible, disconnected from reality, and on its face intended to chill First Amendment freedoms.”

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