A voting tech firm is suing Fox News for $1.6bn (£1.2bn) arguing the cable news giant falsely claimed it had rigged the 2020 election.
It is the first defamation action launched against a media outlet by Dominion Voting Systems, which was the target of bogus allegations peddled by Donald Trump and his allies after losing the presidential race to Joe Biden.
The violent siege of the US Capitol led to Mr Trump’s historic second impeachment.
Dominion argues Fox pushed inaccurate claims the company had altered votes.
In doing so the broadcaster “sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process”, according to the lawsuit.
Dominion’s staff, from its software engineers to its founder, had been harassed, and some had even received death threats, said its lawyers.
Meanwhile, the company has suffered “enormous and irreparable economic harm”.
Despite the allegations made by Mr Trump and his supporters, there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
This was confirmed by a range of election officials across the country and even Mr Trump’s then attorney general William Barr.
Republican governors in Arizona and Georgia, key battleground states crucial to Mr Biden’s victory, also backed the integrity of the polls in their states.
Nearly all the legal challenges mounted by Mr Trump’s campaign were thrown out by judges, including two by the Supreme Court.
Nevertheless, some Fox News employees echoed outlandish claims that Dominion had changed votes using algorithms in its voting machines, which it supposedly created in Venezuela to rig elections for the late dictator Hugo Chavez.
On-air personalities brought on Mr Trump’s allies, including Rudy Giuliani, to make the false charges, which were then repeated on Fox News’ social media platforms.
Dominion said in the lawsuit it tried repeatedly to set the record straight but was ignored by Fox News.
Lawyers for Dominion said Fox News’ behaviour differed greatly from other media outlets that reported on the claims.
“This was a conscious, knowing business decision to endorse and repeat and broadcast these lies in order to keep its viewership,” said attorney Justin Nelson.
Although Dominion served 28 states, until the 2020 election it had been largely unknown outside the election community.
However, it was now viewed by millions of people as a key player in the bogus conspiracy that the Democrats stole votes from Mr Trump, said the lawsuit.
Attorney Stephen Shackelford said: “The buck stops with Fox on this.
“Fox chose to put this on all of its many platforms. They rebroadcast, republished it on social media and other places.”
A rival technology company, Smartmatic USA, has also sued Fox News over election claims.
Unlike Dominion, Smartmatic’s role in the 2020 election was restricted to Los Angeles County.
The lawsuit was filed in Delaware, where both companies are incorporated, although Fox News is based in New York and Dominion in Denver.
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