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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Voters wait hours in line, including some who received sandwiches from volunteers in Brooklyn, to vote during the first ballots in the New York, New York, USA district on October 27, 2020. REUTERS / Mike Segar / File Ph.D.

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By Jan Wolfe

(Reuters) – A New York state judge on Tuesday expressed skepticism over Fox Corp’s proposal to dismiss Smartmatic’s $ 2.7 billion lawsuit accusing Fox News guests and guests of making defamatory claims about the voting technology firm during network coverage of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

During a virtually held oral discussion, Judge David Cohen made sympathetic comments to Smartmatic, which in February sued Fox https://www.reuters.com/article/us-smartmatic-lawsuit-fox-corp/smartmatic-sues- fox-news -giuliani-over-electoral-rigging-claims-idUSKBN2A42JO and two of Donald Trump’s former lawyers, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, after lawyers falsely accused him of rigging votes against the former president. Smartmatic is a London-based company with an American unit based in Florida.

Cohen did not say when he would rule on Fox’s motion to dismiss https://www.reuters.com/article/us-smartmatic-lawsuit-fox-corp/fox-news-asks-for-smartmatic-lawsuit-over- election -rigging-claims-to-be-dismissed-idUSKBN2A90D2 the case.

The judge questioned whether there was any basis for the claims Powell and Giuliani made about Smartmatic during appearances on Fox News and Fox Business, as if the company was banned in Texas.

“How come it’s not defamatory?” The judge asked. “Did any evidence come to light that Smartmatic was banned in Texas?”

Cohen also asked if former Fox Business host Lou Dobbs ever tried to verify the proof of this claim.

Paul Clement, a lawyer representing Fox Corp., responded that these allegations were made during an interview Dobbs conducted with Giuliani and that Fox News was entitled to press freedom from the U.S. Constitution to report news claims of Trump’s lawyers.

The judge noted that experts have rejected the conspiracy theory that the election was hacked, adding that even Fox News host Tucker Carlson had exploited Powell for failing to support the theory with tests.

Cohen asked if this should have caused Fox News to reconsider the accuracy of its reports. Clement said Fox was limited to reporting on news claims made by Trump’s legal teams, not supporting the theories.

Smartmatic technology was only used in one jurisdiction in the Nov. 3 election: Los Angeles County, where Trump lost to President Joe Biden.

Fox News, Giuliani and Powell were sued separately in March for defamation by another voting software company https://www.reuters.com/business/media-telecom/dominion-voting-systems-sues-fox-news -16-bln- over-election-claims-ap-2021-03-26, Dominion Voting Systems. Last week, a judge denied an offer from Powell and Giuliani to dismiss the claims against them in that case. A judge has yet to rule on a Fox petition to dismiss Dominion’s claims against the network.

Trump has falsely claimed that his election was stolen for widespread voting fraud. (This story corrects by saying that Lou Dobbs is a former Fox Business host, not a Fox News host, in paragraph 6)

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