Fox News reached a settlement with controversial Venezuelan entrepreneur Majed Khalil to put an end to the defamation lawsuit in which the businessman with close ties with Caracas’ socialist regime claimed he was falsely identified as the head of an alleged scheme to rig the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
The lawsuit, also filed against former Fox personality Lou Dobbs, had been lingering on the sidelines of the better known $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought against the conservative network by electronic voting companies Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, which were accused publicly by Donald Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani of rigging the 2020 election in favor of President Joe Biden.
In the $250 million lawsuit brought by Khalil against Fox News and Dobbs, lawyers for the Venezuelan businessman said he was falsely described as the “third villain in this fictional and xenophobic conspiracy hatched and promoted by Defendants” while serving as a “frontman” for high-ranking regime official Jorge Rodríguez, who in turn was described as the architect of the “Smartmatic/Dominion election scheme.” The settlement terms were not released.
“The parties are pleased to jointly inform the court that they have reached a confidential agreement to resolve this matter,” attorneys for Khalil and the network wrote in a filing to U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton. As part of the coverage of the alleged conspiracy in December 2020, Dobbs, while working for Fox, interviewed Powell, who accused Rodriguez and Khalil of designing and developing the software used by Smartmatic and Dominion in such a way that people could log in through backdoor channels and manipulate the vote.
Powell and others close to former President Trump also alleged that Dominion was secretly owned by Smartmatic and rigged the presidential election and paid kickbacks to government officials to use its machines, the lawsuit states. Get unlimited digital access Try 1 month for $1 CLAIM OFFER Often accused by opposition leaders of helping regime officials to rig elections in Venezuela, Smartmatic was founded in 1997 by businessmen Antonio Mugica, Alfredo José Anzola and Roger Piñate, and came under the spotlight in 2004 when it was chosen to replace the voting machines in Venezuela ahead of Hugo Chávez’s 2004 reelection.
The company later grew by acquiring the much larger Sequoia Voting Systems and today runs voting systems in many countries across the world. “Smartmatic was founded in Venezuela to rig elections for former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez,” the plaintiff had argued during the Fox election coverage, the lawsuit claims. According to the plaintiff, the defendants knew full well that their “story” of a massive election fraud orchestrated by Dominion, Smartmatic and Venezuelans was pure fiction, but did not cease their false propaganda and deliberate disinformation campaign.