Fox Business cancels Lou Dobbs show after network is hit with $2.7bn lawsuit

Broadcaster says the decision was taken before election technology company Smartmatic named the anchor in the claim filed against it

FILE - Lou Dobbs, with Fox News, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), on Feb. 24, 2017, in Oxon Hill, Md. Fox Business Network’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” has been canceled. In a statement Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, Fox News said the move was part of routine programming changes that it had foreshadowed last fall. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
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Fox Business cancelled the weekday 'Lou Dobbs Tonight' show hosted by one of the network's most fervent supporters of former US President Donald Trump, a day after election technology company Smartmatic filed a $2.7bn lawsuit against Fox Corporation, for defamation and disparagement.

Mr Dobbs did not present his regular weekday show on Friday, which will be replaced from next week with a new programme named Fox Business Tonight hosted by Jackie DeAngelis and David Asman.

The lawsuit filed in the New York State Supreme Court, names Mr Dobbs and two other Fox anchors, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, as well as Mr Trump's lawyer Rudolph Giuliani and his former campaign lawyer Sidney Powell.

The company's chief executive, Antonio Mugica, accused the network of running a "disinformation campaign, which has damaged democracy worldwide and irreparably harmed Smartmatic and other stakeholders who contribute to modern elections”.

Smartmatic said the network made "over 100 false statements and implications", with the overall theme being that it rigged the 2020 election.

The company's lawsuit states that it played a "relatively small, non-controversial role" in the 2020 election, as its technology was only used in Los Angeles County.

Fox Corporation confirmed Mr Dobbs would no longer be hosting his show, but said the decision was taken before it received the lawsuit.

“As we said in October, Fox News Media regularly considers programming changes and plans have been in place to launch new formats as appropriate post-election, including on Fox Business – this is part of those planned changes," a Fox News Media spokesperson said in a statement.

The company also said it would defend the lawsuit filed against it, describing the claims made in it as "meritless".

“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 against this meritless lawsuit in court.”

The size of the amount being claimed by Smartmatic is more than double Fox Corporation's $999 million profit to shareholders achieved in the year to June 30. This reflects the potential damage that could be done to its reputation from the claims made by the network, the company said.

"We are a global company with a proven 20-year record of success in elections technology and services in more than 25 countries," it said. "Destroying our reputation with false accusations and disinformation can cause us to lose business with existing customers and vendors and may cause us to lose out on new business in the future. It may also have a ripple effect that negatively impacts elections in other countries."