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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

Ina Fried, author of Login
31 mins ago - Technology

Microsoft to buy Activision Blizzard

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Microsoft announced Tuesday it plans to acquire video game giant Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in cash.

Why it matters: The move comes as Activision Blizzard has faced a wave of accusations of workplace harassment.

1 hour ago - World

Blinken to visit Ukraine as Russia invasion threat looms

Blinken (R) with President Zelensky. Photo: Efrem Lukatsky/Pool via Getty

Secretary of State Antony Tony Blinken will travel to Ukraine on Tuesday as the country faces an ongoing threat of Russian invasion.

Driving the news: Blinken will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, as well as officials at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv to discuss contingency planning. He'll then travel to Berlin to meet German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and attend a meeting of the "Transatlantic Quad" — France, Germany, the U.K. and U.S.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

At least 3 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least three people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Tuesday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. Officials in Tonga confirmed three deaths in the country's first official statement since the crisis began.

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