Fox News settles lawsuit with Venezuelan businessman it accuses of helping rig the 2020 US presidential election, as it readies for $1.6 billion Dominion trial

Estimated read time 3 min read

Then-Fox News hosted Lou Dobbs.John Lamparski/Getty Images

  • Fox News has settled a defamation lawsuit filed by Venezuelan businessman Majed Khalil.

  • Khalil was accused on air of rigging the 2020 presidential election by then-Fox host Lou Dobbs.

  • The network faces a slew of lawsuits, with jury selection imminent in the $1.6 billion Dominion trial.

Fox News settled a lawsuit filed by Venezuelan businessman Majed Khalil, who accused the news outlet of defamation after then-Fox Business News host Lou Dobbs claimed on air that Khalil helped rig the 2020 US presidential election.

Shortly after the election, Dobbs took to Twitter to call it a “cyber Pearl harbor” and said that Khalil was a “liaison with Hezbollah” who had executed an “electoral 9-11.”

The former Fox host also accused Khalil and other Venezuelans of being involved in a scheme to oust former president Donald Trump.

Khalil filed a $250 million lawsuit against Dobbs, Fox News, its parent company Fox Corporation, and Sidney Powell, a former lawyer for Donald Trump, in December 2021 in Manhattan federal court.

In the lawsuit, Khalil denied he had any affiliations with Dominion and Smartmatic, the two election technology companies Dobbs alleged he worked with. A person familiar with Khalil’s employment previously told Insider he worked in the hospitality business.

In May, Khalil beefed up his legal team by adding Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez, two attorneys who successfully represented Johnny Depp in his defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard.

US District Judge Louise L. Stanton dismissed the allegations against Powell in August of 2022, ruling that she couldn’t be held liable in New York because she made claims about Khalil while in a different state.

Fox News and Fox Corporation filed countersuits against Khalil in October, arguing he had genuine ties with the Venezuelan political elite, that his name was only briefly mentioned in broadcasts, and that those mentioned were protected by the First Amendment.

In a court filing Saturday, lawyers for the parties told Stanton that they had “reached a confidential agreement to resolve this matter.”

The case against Fox was “amically” resolved, a Fox News representative said, without giving further details. An attorney representing Khalil didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

But the network still faces major legal battles related to its coverage of Trump’s election loss.

Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems are soon expected to face off in a trial in Delaware court.

The election technology company, asking for $1.6 billion in damages, alleges the right-wing network defamed it by pushing conspiracy theories — including from Powell and Dobbs — falsely claiming it rigged the 2020 election results.

Dobbs’ show was canceled by Fox Business Network in February 2021, shortly after he was named in election company Smartmatic’s $2.7 billion suit against Fox. The London-based technology firm accused the network of broadcasting of more than 100 false claims, including the assertion that Smartmatic shared its technology with rival company Dominion Voting Systems.

Revelations from filings in the Dominion lawsuit have already significantly damaged the network’s reputation, showing that Fox News producers, executives, and hosts privately trashed election conspiracy theories while presenting them as credible to audiences.

The trial is set to begin on April 17, with some of Fox’s most controversial personalities — Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Maria Bartiromo — expected to be called as witnesses.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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