tv Fox News Retracts Smartmatic Voting Machine Fraud Claim In Staged Video
Fox News has taken a further step back from Donald Trump’s baseless allegations of election fraud with a bizarre apparent legal retraction aired during shows hosted by some of the president’s most fervent supporters.
First broadcast on Fox Business on Friday, on Lou Dobbs Tonight, and repeated over the weekend on shows hosted by Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, the segment was presented as a news interview with election technology expert Eddie Perez.
In the three-minute video, described as “a closer look at claims about Smartmatic”, Perez answers questions posed by an unidentified interviewer about a Florida company that provided voting systems for the November election.
Perez is asked questions such as “Have you seen any evidence that Smartmatic software was used to flip votes anywhere in the US in this election?” and “Have you seen any evidence of Smartmatic sending US votes to be tabulated in foreign countries?”
He says he has not seen any such evidence.
Earlier this week, Antonio Mugica, chief executive of Smartmatic, sent legal notices to Fox News and two other networks promoted by Trump, One America News Network (OANN) and Newsmax, assailing them for spreading “false and defamatory claims” in a “disinformation campaign”.
“They have no evidence to support their attacks on Smartmatic because there is no evidence,” Mugica said in a statement. “This campaign was designed to defame Smartmatic and undermine legitimately conducted elections.”
Trump lost the election to Joe Biden by 306-232 in the electoral college and trails by more than 7m ballots in the popular vote. But his false claims of voter fraud and irregularities in voting systems and technology have received sympathetic hearings on the three rightwing networks.
The Fox News interview with Perez was described by a network source as “a fact-checking segment aired in the same format” as original reporting about Smartmatic.
Speaking to CNN, Perez said: “My reaction was to observe, as many others have, how kind of strange and unique that particular way at presenting the facts was.
“There was nothing in any of the preliminary conversations that I had with Fox News that gave me any indication that Smartmatic would be a matter of conversation. It was never mentioned that this was going to be a discussion about Smartmatic or even claims about private vendors. I was anticipating a broader discussion about the debate around the election [and] election integrity.”
Perez said Fox News’ coverage of the election was “speculative and not based in fact” and conspiracy theories peddled by hosts were “harmful to enhancing public confidence in the legitimacy of election outcomes”.
“I am not accustomed to seeing Lou Dobbs air very straightforward factual evidence,” he said.
A Fox News spokesperson declined comment. Earlier, the network referred CNN back to the video.
Erik Connolly, an attorney for Smartmatic, said the company would not comment “due to potential litigation”.
In a statement to CNN, Newsmax denied making direct claims of impropriety against Smartmatic and said questions about the company and its software were based on “legal documents or previously published reports”.
“As any major media outlet,” Newsmax said, “we provide a forum for public concerns and discussion. In the past we have welcomed Smartmatic and its representatives to counter such claims they believe to be inaccurate and will continue to do so.”