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speech-bubblesTensions erupted both on and off the set of a Newsmax segment when MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell bolstered his claim of a rigged presidential election with accusations directed at the integrity of Dominion Voting Systems. Lindell’s allegations not only caused an anchor to storm off set, but also highlighted the potential consequences of his words for both himself and Newsmax. Clear from Dominion’s public threat of legal action followed by swiftly filing suit against Lindell for $1.3 billion is that defamation cases are no longer privately litigated off-screen. Complaint, US Dominion v. My Pillow, No. 1:21-cv-0045 (D.D.C. Feb. 22, 2021), ECF No. 1. Instead, social media and the 24-hour news cycle provide a multitude of platforms for critical voices, and companies no longer risk complacency in response to the publication of potentially false information.

The tense political climate has provided ample material for defamation claims. Dominion, for one, is no stranger to defamation suits—it recently brought companion cases against Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani for their repeated assertions that the company was created in order to help Hugo Chavez rig elections in Venezuela and support mass election fraud in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Complaint, US Dominion v. Giuliani, No. 1:21-cv-00213 (D.D.C. Jan. 25, 2021), ECF No. 1; Complaint, US Dominion v. Powell, No. 1:21-cv-00040 (D.D.C. Jan. 8, 2021), ECF No. 1.

Another election technology provider, Smartmatic USA, filed a $2.7 billion defamation suit against Fox News, its anchors, and former President Trump’s lawyers. Complaint, Smartmatic USA v. Fox, No. 151136/2021 (Sup. Ct., NY County. Feb. 4, 2021), ECF No. 1. The complaint points to allegations of election fraud broadcast on Fox programs that could jeopardize Smartmatic’s business in a multibillion-dollar industry. Fox News has since cancelled Lou Dobbs’ nightly show, one of the anchors central to the claim. While these cases are still in their earliest stages, the filing of these complaints reflects the high stakes nature and potential fallout from defamation cases.

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