- Dominion sued Fox News for $1.6 billion, alleging it helped spread election conspiracy theories.
- But investors never believed Dominion would be worth more than around $80 million, according to Fox.
- Internal documents show Dominion is still in healthy financial shape, Fox News said in a new filing.
When Dominion Voting Systems alleged Fox News helped spread conspiracy theories that Dominion manipulated the results of the 2020 election, it asked the conservative media network to pony up $1.6 billion.
Dominion had lost $600 million in potential profits on top of $1 billion in potential value, the election technology company wrote in its lawsuit, filed in March 2021. It also asked for another $1.3 million to cover expenses for private security and combatting disinformation about the company.
“As a result of the false accusations broadcast by Fox into millions of American homes, Dominion has suffered unprecedented harm and its employees’ lives have been put in danger,” Dominion’s attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.
Internal documents from Dominion paint a different story, Fox News argues.
In a counterclaim made public Thursday, Fox News cited documents obtained during litigation that it says show Dominion’s investors never believed the company would be worth more than around $80 million.
“There is no indication that Dominion ever has been or ever would have been worth anything close to $1.6 billion —the amount Dominion claims in damages for loss of enterprise value,” lawyers for Fox News Network wrote in the filing. “Dominion’s damage figure is pulled out of thin air.”
The investment firm Staple Street, which paid $38.3 million to buy a 76% stake in Dominion in 2018, set internal valuations “at a maximum of approximately $80 million,” lawyers for Fox News wrote. “Even under the most optimistic projections,” they wrote, Staple Street did not forecast Dominion would be worth “anywhere near $1.6 billion.”
“At no time did Staple Street so much as hint to its investors, auditors, or anyone else that Dominion could be worth $1.6 billion,” they wrote. “Yet, when Dominion decided to file a lawsuit to punish FNN for reporting the President’s allegations about Dominion, Dominion chose to claim that Dominion’s value was 20 times their highest estimate.”
Dominion is in healthy financial shape, Fox News says
Dominion alleges Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corporation, defamed the election technology company by pushing the false conspiracy theory that it manipulated election results.
After former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, he tasked attorneys with overturning the results. Fox News hosts repeatedly interviewed two of those attorneys, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, who falsely claimed Dominion was in cahoots with Smartmatic, a rival election technology company, and that it flipped votes from Trump in favor of now-President Joe Biden.
Dominion alleges Fox News’s hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro knew or should have known that the conspiracy theories had no merit and that they didn’t sufficiently push back on the falsehoods from Powell and Giuliani, and in some cases perpetuated them.
Fox News argued it was simply “providing extensive reporting and commentary on the President’s allegations, the lawsuits they spawned, and related government investigations,” and that it fairly reported on Dominion’s denials as well.
The $1.6 billion lawsuit, Fox News argues, will have a chilling effect on media outlets everywhere.
“Dominion’s ten-figure damage claim demonstrates the danger that unfounded litigation poses to a free press,” lawyers for Fox News wrote. “Threatening FNN with a $1.6 billion judgment will no doubt cause other media outlets to think twice before reporting allegations that are inconvenient to Dominion — and other companies.”
In addition to the lawsuit against Fox News, Dominion also has pending lawsuits against Powell, Giuliani, and other individuals and media outlets it says defamed them. Smartmatic has its own slate of defamation lawsuits against conspiracy theorists and media organizations as well.
Dominion’s lawsuit alleged that the claims peddled by Fox News risked its contracts in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania; iced the company out of Louisiana; and torpedoed a “fully negotiated” $10 million contract in Ohio.
Fox News’s Thursday filing says Dominion is actually in healthy financial shape.
The company has no debt, produces “a steady return,” paid full bonuses to all of its employees in 2021, and projected revenues of $98 million in 2022, Fox News said.
“Based on evidence to date, there are no instances where — as a result of the alleged defamation — Dominion has laid off a single employee, closed a single office, or defaulted on a single credit obligation,” lawyers for Fox News wrote. “Moreover, based on evidence to date, none of Dominion’s customers have canceled their contracts as a result of FNN’s coverage of the President’s allegations.”