A voting technology company swept up in baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election filed a monster $2.7 billion lawsuit on Thursday against Fox News, some of the network's star hosts, and pro-Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, alleging the parties worked in concert to wage a "disinformation campaign" that has jeopardized its very survival.
"We have no choice," Antonio Mugica, the chief executive and founder of Smartmatic, said in an interview about the company's decision to file the lawsuit, reports CNN Business.
"The disinformation campaign that was launched against us is an obliterating one. For us, this is existential, and we have to take action."
The lawsuit, filed in New York state court, accused Fox, Giuliani, Powell and hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro of intentionally lying about Smartmatic in an effort to mislead the public into the false belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.
"They needed a villain," the lawsuit said.
"They needed someone to blame. They needed someone whom they could get others to hate. A story of good versus evil, the type that would incite an angry mob, only works if the storyteller provides the audience with someone who personifies evil."
"Without any true villain, defendants invented one," the lawsuit added.
"Defendants decided to make Smartmatic the villain in their story."
In a statement on behalf of the network and the named hosts issued after the lawsuit was filed, a Fox News spokesperson said, "FOX News Media is committed to providing the full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear opinion. We are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court."
Asked for comment, Powell said in a statement, "I have not received notice or a copy of this alleged lawsuit. However, your characterization of the claims shows that this is just another political maneuver motivated by the radical left that has no basis in fact or law."
In a statement of his own, Giuliani said, "The Smartmatic lawsuit presents another golden opportunity for discovery. I look forward to litigating with them."
Giuliani and Powell have also been sued by another voting technology company, Dominion Voting Systems, for promoting their voter fraud conspiracies. Giuliani called Dominion's lawsuit against him an "act of intimidation" to "censor the exercise of free speech" and Powell called Dominion's lawsuit against her "baseless."
In the immediate aftermath of his loss, Trump falsely asserted that the election had been rigged against him. His allies, including Fox, Giuliani, and Powell, promoted various conspiracy theories about Smartmatic, which only provided its services to Los Angeles County in the 2020 general election, to support Trump's false claims.
The baseless conspiracy theories peddled about Smartmatic, which mimicked those pushed against Dominion, falsely suggested that the company's technology was used throughout the country and allowed the November vote to be rigged against Trump.
Some strains of the conspiracy theory pushed on Fox aimed to tie the company to the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez. Other strains suggested that Dominion used Smartmatic's voting software in swing states and that votes were exported out of the country to be tabulated; both assertions were false and Smartmatic pointed out in its lawsuit that it doesn't work with Dominion as the two companies are competitors.