Fox Business Cancels “Lou Dobbs Tonight”

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

By Terrance Turner

Feb. 5, 2021

Fox Business has abruptly canceled “Lou Dobbs Tonight” — its highest-rated show. Dobbs’ program, which airs twice a night at 5 pm and 7 pm eastern, will air for the final time tonight. Starting next week, the program will be called “Fox Business Tonight”, with rotating substitute hosts, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Dobbs, 75, remains under conntract at Fox News but will in all likelihood not appear on the network again, the Times said. The sudden move comes after Dobbs spent months as one of Donald Trump’s most loyal defenders. But the cancellation also comes just a day after what could be a game-changing lawsuit.

On Thursday, voting technology company Smartmatic filed a $2.7 billion lawsuit against Fox News and three of its hosts: Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro, and Maria Bartiromo. The lawsuit claims that they perpetuated “a disinformation campaign” about Smartmatic and its practices during the 2020 election. It further alleges that Dobbs was one of the “primary components” of the campaign. The suit charges that, beyond just repeating a false narrative about election fraud, Dobbs “contributed additional falsehoods to the narrative”.

On a Nov. 12 episode of “Lou Dobbs Tonight”, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani claimed that Smartmatic was funded by Venezuelans “in order to fix elections”. According to the Washington Post, Dobbs thanked Giuliani for being “on the case,” adding that “it has the feeling of a coverup in certain places”.

The exchange prompted a letter from Smartmatic attorneys, demanding that Dobbs and others refute and retract their statements. In a 20-page letter, Smartmatic’s attorney J. Erik Connolly cited statements made by Dobbs and Bartiromo, as well as guests who have appeared on their shows. According to Deadline, this includes two lawyers who have been claiming election fraud, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who have represented the Trump campaign.

Among other things, Connolly cited comments that Dobbs has made, including a Nov. 18 show in which he said, “I am alarmed because of what is occurring in plain sight during this 2020 election for president of the United States. The circumstances and events are eerily reminiscent of what happened with Smartmatic software electronically changing votes in the 2013 presidential election in Venezuela.”

In the letter, Connolly wrote that Smartmatic has no operations in Venezuela, but did election projects in the country from 2004 to 2017. It said that it stopped doing business in the country after the National Electoral Counsel announced results “that differed from results reflected in Smartmatic’s voting systems.” It then publicly condemned election authorities and ceased operations there. (In fact, Smartmatic performed work in only one county during the November elections, per the Post.) Connolly wrote that the network “would have easily discovered the falsity of statements and implications being made about Smartmatic by performing even a modicum of investigation.”

In his defense, Dobbs eventually did run a segment that served as a fact-check on the statements he’d made. But now, it’s too late. A lawsuit has been filed, alleging that Giuliani and Powell used Fox News as a medium to spread lies — and Fox (along with Dobbs) happily obliged.

“Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell settled on two villains: Smartmatic and Dominion. They had no evidence that Smartmatic or Dominion had done anything wrong. Indeed, in the case of Smartmatic, they had no evidence that Smartmatic’s election technology and software were even used in any of the states that had close outcomes in the 2020 U.S. election. But, casting Smartmatic and Dominion as the villains made for a good story,” the lawsuit says. “Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell needed a platform to use to spread their story. They found a willing partner in Fox News.”

In fact, Smartmatic’s role in the election was limited to crafting software for Los Angeles County’s “Voting Solutions for All People” initiative. Part of that initiative involved the creation of “Ballot Marking Devices” or BMDs, voting machines that allow people to cast ballots. As the lawsuit explains:

“Redesigned Ballot Marking Device (“BMD”): The BMD replaces the
County’s legacy InkaVote system. The BMD allows every voter to
customize their experience with both visual and audio access in thirteen
languages and offers accessibility features that provide voters with
disabilities equality and independence in casting ballots. For auditability
and security, the BMDs produce human-readable paper ballots that exceed
national voting system security standards.”

From “Smartmatic Complaint Against Fox Corporation”

Now, the time for investigation has passed. Fox News is being sued, accused of willfully furthering a disinformation campaign that cost Smartmatic valuable business.

Dobbs emerged over the past few months as one of Trump’s most dogged supporters. Trump returned the favor while reacting to the news. “Lou Dobbs is and was great,” Trump said in a statement, per the New York Times. “Nobody loves America more than Lou. He had a large and loyal following that will be watching closely for his next move, and that following includes me.”

The suit describes the aforementioned Nov. 12 appearance by Giuliani on Lou Dobbs Tonight: “On November 12, 2020, Mr. Giuliani appeared on Lou Dobbs Tonight to spread the disinformation campaign to millions of people. At the time of his appearance, Mr. Giuliani had presented no evidence that the 2020 U.S. election had been rigged or stolen. He provided no such evidence to Mr. Dobbs and Mr. Dobbs had seen no such evidence. But, Mr. Dobbs was in alignment with the false story that Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell wanted to spread.

Mr. Dobbs: Let’s talk about, just for a moment, an update on Dominion and
how important do you believe the concerns that are being expressed of a
number of states about the ability of these machines not to be hacked?

Mr. Giuliani: Well, first of all, the machines can be hacked. There’s no question about that. Their machines can be hacked, but it’s far worse than that. Dominion, Dominion is a company that’s owned by another company Smartmatic, through its intermediary company Indra.

Smartmatic is a company that was formed way back in 2004, 2003, 2004. You’re gonna be astonished when I tell you how it was formed. It was formed really by three Venezuelans, who were very close to [] dictator, Chávez, of Venezuela. And it was formed in order to fix elections. That’s the, that’s the company that owns Dominion.

Dominion is a Canadian company, but all of its software is Smartmatic software. So the votes actually go to Barcelona, Spain. So we are using a foreign company that is owned by Venezuelans who are close to, were close to Chávez, are now close to Maduro, have a history, they were founded as a company to fix elections. They have a terrible record and they are extremely hackable.

From “Exhibit 1” of the lawsuit
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screenshot-23.png
Screenshot of the lawsuit’s Exhibit 1 involving Rudy Giuliani and Lou Dobbs.

Dobbs is directly implicated here: “Mr. Dobbs then took the initiative and contributed additional falsehoods to the narrative by telling people that Smartmatic and Dominion sent votes out of the country so the voting is not auditable. He had no evidence of this assertion, and Secretaries of State had stated the opposite, but that was another aspect of the false narrative that Defendants ultimately wanted to spread. Mr. Dobbs stated: ‘And, by the way, the states, as you well know now, they have no ability to audit meaningfully the votes that are cast because the servers are somewhere else and are considered proprietary and they won’t touch them. It won’t permit them being touched.’

Mr. Dobbs then passed the microphone back to Mr. Giuliani to describe the
widespread nature of the fraud perpetrated by Smartmatic.


Mr. Giuliani: I’m working on the part of the case which is demonstrating how many illegal votes were cast. And I’m way beyond the margin that I need in Pennsylvania or Michigan to overturn the vote there. We’re up to about 623 thousand unlawful ballots in Pennsylvania and about 320 unlawful ballots in Michigan. . . This was, this was a stolen election. I know, I know the phony elites don’t want to hear it, but this was a stolen election. The same pattern exists in Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, [and] Wisconsin…

Mr. Dobbs: This looks to me like it’s the end of what has been a four and a
half, the end game to a four and a half effort, four and a half year long effort
to overthrow the President of the United States. It looks like it’s exactly that,
that there is a, these are all parts of a piece here.

“Exhibit 1”

“Mr. Dobbs closed Fox News’ first broadcast about Smartmatic with an endorsement of Mr. Giuliani’s statements about the election being stole by Smartmatic,” the lawsuit says. Dobbs said: “And Rudy, we’re glad you’re on the case and, and pursuing what is the truth and straightening out what is a very complicated and difficult story. And by the way, it’s not only difficult, it has the feeling of a cover up in certain places, you know, putting the servers in foreign countries, private companies, we don’t have transparency with those servers. This is, this is an election nightmare, as well as a battle.”

Just four days later, host Lou Dobbs featured a member of Trump’s legal team: Sidney Powell. “On November 16, Mr. Dobbs continued his part in spreading the disinformation campaign on Lou Dobbs Tonight,” the lawsuit charges, labeling the offending incident: (Lou Dobbs Tonight, November 16, 2020 (Exhibit 15)). The suit charges that Dobbs made statements about the company without knowing anything about it:

At the time of the broadcast, Mr. Dobbs had seen no evidence that Smartmatic’s election technology and software were used to rig or steal the election. Smartmatic had only been used in Los Angeles County, making it impossible for Smartmatic to have influenced the outcome of the election.

Nonetheless, he started his show by stating: ‘Dominion has connections to U.K based Smartmatic, a voting technology company established in 2000 that had ties to Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez.’ And then he made sure everyone understood that Smartmatic had stolen the election.

Mr. Dobbs: This is the worst in our country’s history. There is no election in our presidential history, our nation’s history in which there were so many anomalies, so many irregularities and so much clear evidence of fraud.

From “Exhibit 15” in the lawsuit
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screenshot-27.png
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screenshot-24.png

In fact, Smartmatic’s role in the election was limited to crafting software for Los Angeles County’s “Voting Solutions for All People” initiative. Part of that initiative involved the creation of “Ballot Marking Devices” or BMDs, voting machines that allow people to cast ballots. As the lawsuit explains:

“Redesigned Ballot Marking Device (“BMD”): The BMD replaces the
County’s legacy InkaVote system. The BMD allows every voter to
customize their experience with both visual and audio access in thirteen
languages and offers accessibility features that provide voters with
disabilities equality and independence in casting ballots. For auditability
and security, the BMDs produce human-readable paper ballots that exceed
national voting system security standards.”From “Smartmatic Complaint Against Fox Corporation”

The company claims the extent of its work during the election was in Los Angeles County, working largely on BMD production and implementation. It says the efforts were successful:

In total, Smartmatic provided the following technology and services to Los Angeles
County under the VSAP initiative: (1) engineered and manufactured the BMD hardware, (2)
programmed and installed the BMD software, (3) led the California certification process, (4)
created the backend software to manage the devices, (5) provided systems integration services, (6)
built the VSAP operations center, (7) handled logistics and setup/breakdown of the vote centers,
(8) oversaw real-time data management for deployment, and (9) supplied Help Desk services on
Election Day. […]

Smartmatic’s involvement with Los Angeles County was a success. Smartmatic’s election technology and software were used in the March 3, 2020, California presidential primary in Los Angeles County. It was an undisputed success. Loyola Marymount University conducted an exit poll following the primary and concluded that most voters trusted the election and felt the technology made the voting easier. (3/11/20 Loyola Marymount University, 2020 LA Votes Presidential Primary Exit Poll (Exhibit 118)).From “Smartmatic Complaint Against Fox Corporation”

Now, the time for investigation has passed. Fox News is being sued, accused of willfully furthering a disinformation campaign that cost Smartmatic valuable business. And Dobbs, who has hosted his show since March 2011, is now out of a job.

Dobbs emerged over the past few months as one of Trump’s most dogged supporters. Trump returned the favor while reacting to the news. “Lou Dobbs is and was great,” Trump said in a statement, per the New York Times. “Nobody loves America more than Lou. He had a large and loyal following that will be watching closely for his next move, and that following includes me.”

 Save as PDF

Leave a Reply