Mar 9, 2022 - Economy

Judge: Tucker Carlson comments may hurt Fox News in defamation lawsuit

Photo of Tucker Carlson speaking into a microphone with one fist raised as he sits cross-legged in a one-person couch on a stage

Tucker Carlson at a 2018 event in Los Angeles. Photo: Chelsea Guglielmino via Getty Images

Fox News star Tucker Carlson's comments could cement voting machine company Smartmatic's defamation lawsuit against the network, a judge said this week.

Why it matters: Carlson had denounced conspiracy theories perpetuated by Sidney Powell, who accused Smartmatic of rigging the 2020 election, on his show even though other Fox News hosts aired those claims.

  • Smartmatic brought the suit against Fox News, its hosts Jeanine Pirro and Maria Bartiromo, former host Lou Dobbs, Powell and ex-Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

What he's saying: "Ironically, the statements of Tucker Carlson, perhaps the most popular Fox News host, militate most strongly in favor of a possible finding that there is a substantial basis that Fox News acted with actual malice," New York State Supreme Court Judge David Cohen wrote in the opinion.

  • "Powell never provided the evidence requested by Carlson, and President Trump's campaign advised Carlson that it knew of no such evidence," Cohen said.
  • "Therefore, there are sufficient allegations that Fox News knew, or should have known, that Powell's claim was false, and purposefully ignored the efforts of its most prominent anchor to obtain substantiation of claims of wrongdoing."

Yes, but: Cohen did grant Pirro and Powell's motions to dismiss the lawsuit against them.

The other side: "While we are gratified that Judge Cohen dismissed Smartmatic’s claims against Jeanine Pirro at this early stage, we still plan to appeal the ruling immediately," Fox News Media said in a statement.

  • "We will also continue to litigate these baseless claims by filing a counterclaim for fees and costs under New York’s anti-SLAPP statute to prevent the full-blown assault on the First Amendment which stands in stark contrast to the highest tradition of American journalism."
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