A voting technology company at the center of election conspiracy theories demanded a retraction from Fox News, accusing them of 'a concerted disinformation campaign'

  • Smartmatic, a voting technology company, sent cease and desist letters on Monday to Fox News, One America News, and Newsmax, demanding retractions.

  • The company has become the subject of conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, and accused the media organizations of spreading them.

  • In a letter to Fox News obtained by Insider, Smartmatic says Fox News hosts Lou Dobbs, Jesse Watters, and Maria Bartiromo have been instrumental in spreading the conspiracy theories, which first gained widespread currency with lawsuits from ex-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell.

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The election software company Smartmatic is demanding retractions from right-wing media outlets, accusing them of spreading conspiracy theories about its role in the 2020 elections.

In a letter obtained by Insider, Smartmatic accused Fox News of engaging in "a concerted disinformation campaign against Smartmatic" by "continually and repeatedly published demonstrably false information and defamatory statements."

"Fox News told its millions of viewers and readers that Smartmatic was founded by Hugo Chávez, that its software was designed to fix elections, and that Smartmatic conspired with others to defraud the American people and fix the 2020 U.S. election by changing, inflating, and deleting votes," Smartmatic's letter, addressed to Fox News executive vice president and general counsel Lily Fu Claffee, reads.

Smartmatic has also sent retraction demands and legal notices to One America News Network and Newsmax, two right-wing news outlets that pushed conspiracy theories about the company's role in the election, a Smartmatic spokesperson confirmed to Insider.

Representatives for Fox News, OANN, and Newsmax didn't immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.

"They have no evidence to support their attacks on Smartmatic because there is no evidence. This campaign was designed to defame Smartmatic and undermine legitimately conducted elections," Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica said in a statement. "Our efforts are more than just about Smartmatic or any other company. This campaign is an attack on election systems and election workers in an effort to depress confidence in future elections and potentially counter the will of the voters, not just here, but in democracies around the world."

The letter, written by attorney J. Erik Connolly, says Fox News's "disinformation campaign" has caused extraordinary damage to Smartmatic's reputation, which is instrumental in securing contracts with government officials.

"The damage your disinformation campaign has done, and will do, to Smartmatic's revenue and business valuation will be measured in the hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars," Connolly wrote, adding: "Your false and defamatory statements undermine the reputation for reliability that Smartmatic has spent almost 20 years building."

Right-wing conspiracy theorists have pushed false theories about Smartmatic

Smartmatic, along with Dominion Voting Systems, has become a target of conspiracy theorists who falsely claim that their voting technology switched votes from President Donald Trump to President-elect Joe Biden, swaying the election.

The claims gained widespread notice in conservative circles from the lawsuits of Sidney Powell, a former member of Trump's legal team challenging the election. They have also been pushed by Rudy Giuliani, who remains. on Trump's team. The lawsuits outline a convoluted conspiracy theory claiming that Smartmatic and Dominion are in cahoots with each other and that their method of switching votes originated years ago in Venezuela to rig an election for the country's now-dead president Hugo Chavez.

sidney powell rudy giuliani
Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Both Smartmatic and Dominion, which are independent of one another, have rejected the claims in separate statements and described Powell's claims as technically impossible. Both of them produce election technology that is fully auditable - and has been audited - by election authorities, they have said. Smartmatic ceased working in Venezuela and condemned its government after the country announced election results that different from Smartmatic's tally.

But even as Powell's falsehood-filled lawsuits have been universally rejected in court, the conspiracy theories continue to circulate.

Smartmatic says Fox News was wrong to offer a platform to Giuliani and Powell, who made numerous false claims about the company on air.

"Fox News used its anchors and on-air guests, including Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, to spread lies about a company that had absolutely nothing to do with the voting that took place in areas at the heart of the 'conspiracies' discussed following the 2020 U.S. election," the letter reads.

Legal ethics experts have criticized Powell and Giuliani for spreading baseless claims about the 2020 election in court and in the public, saying both of them are at risk of court sanctions and possibly disbarment.

Individual Fox News hosts are to blame as well, Smartmatic said

In addition to citing false claims from Giuliani and Powell, Smartmatic's letter identifies claims from Fox News hosts Lou Dobbs, Jesse Watters, and Maria Bartiromo it says should be retracted. When asked whether Smartmatic would pursue legal measures against them individually, a spokesperson said "everything is on the table."

"Fox News would have easily discovered the falsity of the statements and implications being made about Smartmatic by performing even a modicum of investigation," its letter reads.

Smartmatic says it had a limited role in the 2020 US elections, offering technology for use only in Los Angeles County.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

"Smartmatic developed technology could not have been used to 'fix' the 2020 U.S. election given that technology and software supported by Smartmatic was only used in one county, Los Angeles County," the letter reads, adding: "No one has claimed improprieties relating to the results in Los Angeles County."

In its letter, Smartmatic says Fox News's reports have led to death threats against its employees.

"These threats have been communicated directly to Smartmatic employees and management across the globe, including threats of death and personal violence," the letter reads. "The social media profiles of the company and its CEO have been filled with profanities and more threats. Family members, including children, of Smartmatic's executives have also received threats to their safety and well-being."

Smartmatic asks for a retraction to be made "with the same intensity and level of coverage that you used to defame the company in the first place."

Read Smartmatic's letter to Fox News below:

Read the original article on Business Insider