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Judge Uses Tucker's Surprisingly Accurate Election Conspiracy Take Against Fox in Defamation Lawsuit

Judge Uses Tucker's Surprisingly Accurate Election Conspiracy Take Against Fox in Defamation Lawsuit
Fox News

Far-right Fox News host Tucker Carlson is known for regularly promoting incendiary disinformation, riddled with white nationalist talking points, to his millions of viewers each night.

Carlson has absurdly claimed that the deadly failed insurrection against the United States Capitol last year was actually staged by U.S. intelligence officials to suppress the political expression of former President Donald Trump's supporters. He's said that immigrants make countries dirtier. He's lied that power grid outages in Texas were somehow due to Democratic energy policies.

Like many of his colleagues at Fox, Carlson has also promoted the conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was "stolen" from Trump, but he stopped short of echoing Sidney Powell, a pro-Trump lawyer who's been slapped with multiple defamation suits for baselessly claiming that elections software companies conspired with Democrats and foreign nations to switch Trump votes to Biden votes.

In fact, in the days after the election, Carlson spent an entire segment scrutinizing Powell's lies, telling viewers:

"We invited Sidney Powell on the show. We would have given her the whole hour, but she never sent us any evidence, despite a lot of requests, polite requests. Not a page. When we kept pressing, she got angry and told us to stop contacting her ... She never demonstrated that a single actual vote was moved illegitimately by software from one candidate to another. Not one."

Now, as Aaron Blake of the Washington Post notes, this shred of truth from one of Fox's most notorious hosts may make the network more vulnerable to the defamation lawsuit it's facing from Smartmatic, one of the elections companies Fox News hosts repeatedly suggested helped "steal" the election.

New York Supreme Court Judge David B. Cohen recently ruled that the company's $2.7 billion defamation suit against the network could proceed, but—as in any defamation case—Smartmatic will have to prove that Fox had "actual malice"—that it knew the statements being made on its air were false or demonstrated reckless disregard for the statements' veracity.

In his ruling, Judge Cohen said that Carlson's skepticism may end up helping the prosecutors prove Fox acted with actual malice, writing:

"Ironically, the statements of Tucker Carlson, perhaps the most popular Fox News host, militate most strongly in favor of a possible finding that there is a substantial basis that Fox News acted with actual malice. ... Powell never provided the evidence requested by Carlson, and President Trump’s campaign advised Carlson that it knew of no such evidence. Therefore, there are sufficient allegations that Fox News knew, or should have known, that Powell’s claim was false, and purposefully ignored the efforts of its most prominent anchor to obtain substantiation of claims of wrongdoing by [Smartmatic]."

The network's critics were pleased to see one of its most incendiary personalities play a key role in a potentially victorious defamation suit against it.

They also celebrated that the monumental defamation lawsuit against the network will proceed.

Fox might be about to go through some things.