Tucker Carlson’s comments about the Big Lie in 2020 may cost Fox News billions in the two defamation cases against it, but not for the reason you might think.
March 11, 2022

Shockingly, it was a rare, if not the only instance of Carlson’s interest in the truth that could prove Fox’s undoing: An angry denunciation of Trump attorney Sidney Powell for failing to provide any evidence to prove her "stolen election" claim, despite multiple requests. “She never demonstrated that a single actual vote was moved illegitimately by software from one candidate to another. Not one,” Carlson said.

As Insider explained, one of the issues in the defamation cases brought by Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems is whether Fox acted with “actual malice,” i.e. recklessly disregarded or purposefully avoided the truth when it presented false claims that the voting technology companies rigged the election against Donald Trump.

In his order denying Fox’s motion to dismiss the $2.7 billion Smartmatic lawsuit, New York Justice David Cohen wrote that Carlson's shredding of Powell indicated “a substantial basis” for concluding Fox acted with actual malice:

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. As noted above, on November 19, 2020, Dobbs posted a video of he and Powell on Twitter with a caption stating, inter alia, that Powell “has no doubt that Dominion voting machines run [Smartmatic’]’s software which allows [it] to manipulate the votes.” The same day, Carlson wrote an article stating that, for over a week, Powell had been claiming that the election had been stolen and that, if Powell were correct, it would be the greatest crime in American history, and he thus asked her to substantiate her comments. However, Powell never provided the evidence requested by Carlson, and President Trump’s campaign advised Carlson that it knew of no such evidence. 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 by [Smartmatic].

But Smartmatic may not even need to prove “actual malice,” Insider said. It’s a standard that applies only to defamation cases involving public figures and Smartmatic argues it is only a “public figure” thanks to Fox. The judge did not rule on that. But Insider pointed out that the judge hinted that Fox showed a reckless disregard for the truth:

"Even assuming that Fox News did not intentionally allow this false narrative to be broadcasted, there is a substantial basis for plaintiffs' claim that, at a minimum, Fox News turned a blind eye to a litany of outrageous claims about plaintiffs, unprecedented in the history of American elections, so inherently improbable that it evinced a reckless disregard for the truth," Cohen wrote in the ruling.

I hope that Smartmatic and Dominion prevail over Fox bigly. If Tucker Carlson provides the smoking gun, that would make it all the more delicious.

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