Facing the threat of lawsuits for defamation, Fox News and the upstart right-wing network Newsmax have begun broadcasting segments walking back wild election fraud allegations against voting-machine and software manufacturers Smartmatic and Dominion.
“Newsmax would like to clarify its news coverage and note that it has not reported as true certain claims made about these companies,” host John Tabacco said Monday, attributing the “opinions and claims” to “various guests, attorneys and elected officials” who appeared on the network. The charges, which the companies say are baseless and have been widely mocked as ridiculous, originated with former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, who accused the two companies of conspiring with Democrats and the Venezuelan government to tip the election to Joe Biden.
Tabacco also noted that Smartmatic’s software was only used in Los Angeles during the 2020 election, and not in the battleground states where the Trump campaign has alleged that fraud propelled Biden to victory.
On Friday, Fox News began airing a pretaped retraction of many of the claims made in recent weeks on the network. It took the form of an interview with Open Source Election Technology Institute director Eddie Perez and first aired on “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”
Perez answered a series of questions that seemed expressly written to try to mollify Smartmatic and Dominion, both of which had threatened to sue Fox News. Perez later told CNN that he had not been told what the focus of the interview would be.
In a widely derided news conference on Nov. 19, Powell took aim at Smartmatic and Dominion.
“The Dominion voting systems, the Smartmatic technology software and the software that goes in other computerized voting systems here as well, not just Dominion, were created in Venezuela at the direction of Hugo Chávez to make sure he never lost an election after one constitutional referendum came out the way he did not want it to come out,” Powell said, without presenting any evidence to back up her assertions.
Thanks in part to that news conference, Dominion and Smartmatic became regular topics of conversation on Newsmax, Fox News and One America News Network (OANN), all of which have backed President Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.
In its retraction, Newsmax made clear that assertions made by Powell and others who had appeared on the network claiming that Dominion was owned or influenced by Democrats or foreign governments were not based in fact.
“Dominion has stated that the company has no ownership, relationship with the Pelosi family, the Feinstein family, the Clinton family, Hugo Chávez or the government of Venezuela,” Tabacco said. “Neither Dominion or Smartmatic has any relationship with George Soros. Smartmatic is a U.S. company and not owned by the Venezuelan government, Hugo Chávez or any foreign official or entity.”
Last week, Smartmatic demanded retractions by the three networks for “false and defamatory statements.” A lawyer representing Dominion sent a letter to Powell demanding that she immediately retract the claims she made against the company, which resulted in death threats to a number of the company’s employees.
Powell is being represented in the matter by high-profile attorney Lin Wood, who sent a terse response to Dominion’s lawyers.
“I have carefully reviewed your letter of December 15, 2020. I am not impressed. Ms. Powell retracts nothing. File your lawsuit,” the letter stated.
OANN has yet to respond to the requests for a retraction from Dominion and Smartmatic.