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The Fox News headquarters in New York City. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Fox News on Monday filed a motion to dismiss a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against the network and some of its top hosts from voting company Smartmatic, claiming the suit seeks to "stifle debate and chill vital First Amendment activities."

Why it matters: The bulk of the filing leans on the notion that Fox's coverage is protected by the First Amendment.

Details: "This suit strikes at the heart of the First Amendment," the lawsuit states. "Smartmatic’s theory is fundamentally incompatible with the reality of the modern news network and deeply rooted principles of free speech law."

  • The lawsuit cites various legal proceedings that Fox argues establish a precedent that the speech, protected by the First Amendment, should be uninhibited and open and that speech concerning government affairs is very much protected by the First Amendement, as is freedom of the press.
  • Kirkland & Ellis Partner Paul Clement filed the motion on behalf of Fox News Media.

The big picture: Smartmatic is the second voting company to file a defamation lawsuit against election defamation. Dominion Voting Systems, which sent a warning to Fox last month and filed two $1.3 billion defamation lawsuits against pro-Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

  • As Axios has previously noted, defamation lawsuits have so far proven somewhat effective in curbing the spread of disinformation about voter fraud on cable TV — although political disinformation about COVID-19 and the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack is still prevalent on some conservative networks, particularly in primetime.

Of note: Fox News has cancelled its business network's "Lou Dobbs Tonight" after Smartmatic filed the lawsuit against the network, naming Dobbs and network hosts Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro in the suit.

Go deeper: Smartmatic files lawsuit against Fox, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
16 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."

Cedric Richmond: We won't wait on GOP for "insufficient" stimulus

Top Biden adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" the White House believes it has bipartisan support for a stimulus bill outside the Beltway.

  • "If our choice is to wait and go bipartisan with an insufficient package, we are not going to do that."

The big picture: The bill will likely undergo an overhaul in the Senate after House Democrats narrowly passed a stimulus bill this weekend, reports Axios' Kadia Goba.

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