College - Author 1

College of Liberal Arts

Department - Author 1

Journalism Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Journalism



Primary Advisor

Tony Prado, College of Liberal Arts, Journalism Department


The following study analyzes defamation lawsuits filed against Fox News and its on-air personalities by companies that manufactured and maintained voting machines used in the 2020 US presidential election. Smartmatic and Dominion accused Fox in court of broadcasting debunked allegations that the companies had rigged the election against incumbent president (and longtime Fox viewer) Donald Trump. The size of the sought-after damages, and the size of Fox itself, make this the largest “fake news suit” in history. This study explores the merits of the suits, defenses to defamation (particularly opinion, political speech, and retraction) and the potential ramifications of a judgement for either side. The study is particularly interested in whether defamation law can be utilized against the fake news phenomenon while still preserving the fundamental American right to a free and independent press. In short, is there a happy middle ground that prohibits news sites from disseminating verifiably false information that does not restrict legitimate journalism?