Court Battles

Judge allows defamation lawsuit against Fox News, Lou Dobbs to move forward

A federal judge this week allowed a Venezuelan businessman’s defamation lawsuit to continue against Fox News and host Lou Dobbs over statements accusing the man of helping rig the 2020 presidential election.

Majed Khalil filed the suit last year, alleging statements made on Dobbs’s Twitter account and by Sidney Powell on Dobbs’s show defamed Khalil by accusing him of executing an “electoral 9/11” and helping change ballot counts in voting machines.

Dobbs, the Fox Corporation and Fox News moved to dismiss the case in January, arguing the statements were protected under the First Amendment and were not said with actual malice, the standard of proof required for defamation against a public figure.

U.S. District Court Judge Louis Lee Stanton denied the motion on Monday, saying Khalil is not a public figure and that his complaint showed enough evidence of false and defamatory statements to move forward to discovery in the case.

“Defendants repeatedly maintained their claims about Khalil long after Powell’s election fraud theories were challenged,” Stanton wrote in the ruling. “Numerous reports that declared the falsity of the claims against Dominion and Smartmatic and rejected Powell as an accurate source of information gave Defendants reasons to doubt Powell’s veracity and the accuracy of her reports.” 

Khalil’s complaint references a Dec. 10, 2020, tweet from Dobbs listing Khalil as one of “four names” that people need to get familiar with, accusing him of being a liaison with Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the “effective COO” of an election rigging scheme using Smartmatic and Dominion voting machines.

“The 2020 Election is a cyber Pearl Harbor: The leftwing establishment have aligned their forces to overthrow the United States government,” Dobbs wrote on Twitter.

The complaint alleges the defamation continued on Dobbs’s show later that day when Sidney Powell, a lawyer who assisted former President Trump’s post-election efforts, appeared for an interview.

According to Khalil’s complaint, Dobbs asked Powell on the show, “You say these four individuals led the effort to rig this election. How did they do it?”

Powell allegedly responded by saying Khalil and the others “designed and developed the Smartmatic and Dominion programs and machines that include a controller module that allows people to log in and manipulate the vote even as it’s happening.” 

The Hill has reached out to a Fox News spokesperson and attorneys for Dobbs and Khalil for comment.

The unfounded claims by Powell and others following the 2020 presidential election have led to a flurry of defamation lawsuits still making their way through the courts. The judge dropped Powell as a defendant in Khalil’s suit last month.

Dominion Voting Systems filed a separate suit against Powell, asking for $1.3 billion for repeated statements she made following the election. A judge on Wednesday rejected Powell’s countersuit and previously rejected her request to dismiss Dominion’s suit.

Defamation suits by Dominion have also been brought against MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and Fox News.

Tags 2020 election claims Defamation suit Dominion Voting Fox News Lou Dobbs Lou Dobbs Majed Khalil Sidney Powell Sidney Powell Smartmatic Trump

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