If President Trump tunes into Fox News this weekend, he may see something unexpected: a point-by-point fact-check to wild election fraud claims made by some of his favorite hosts on the network.
After voting technology company Smartmatic sent Fox News a blistering legal threat that accused the network of participating in a “disinformation campaign” against it, the network has started airing a remarkable news package debunking claims its hosts and guests have propagated.
The package aired for the first time Friday night on Lou Dobbs’ show. Fox News said the same package would air Saturday night on Jeanine Pirro’s program as well as Sunday morning on Maria Bartiromo’s show. All three hosts, who use their platforms to air pro-Trump propaganda, are close with the President.
The stunning news package featured an interview with voting technology expert Eddie Perez, who poured cold water on a series of conspiracy theories that have been amplified and promoted on the shows of Dobbs, Pirro, and Bartiromo.
Perez said, for instance, that he had not seen any evidence that Smartmatic software was used to manipulate the election or that there was a direct connection between the company and liberal philanthropic billionaire George Soros.
As Trump has continued to attack the integrity of the voting system, some of his allies have homed in on Smartmatic because of the services it provided Los Angeles County for the 2020 election.
The baseless conspiracy theories peddled about Smartmatic, which mimic those pushed against Dominion Voting Systems, falsely suggest that the company’s technology allowed the November vote to be rigged against Trump.
Some strains of the conspiracy theory have aimed to tie the company to Soros and the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez.
When asked for comment on the surreal news package Fox aired, Erik Connolly, an attorney for Smartmatic, told CNN, “We cannot comment due to potential litigation.” A Fox News spokesperson referred CNN back to the segment itself and did not comment further.
In its legal notice to Fox News, dated December 10, Smartmatic identified several instances in which conspiracy theories were spread on its air by either Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani or former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell. The legal notice, which stated assertions made about Chavez and Soros have no truth to them, also identified instances in which Dobbs and Bartiromo helped spread false information.
Perez, who has a history providing insight to news organizations, told CNN on Saturday afternoon that the interview process with Fox was unusual. Perez said, for instance, that the network would not tell him which show the piece would be aired on and that he found it strange the interview was not conducted by an on-air reporter or host.
“I was never informed that the content would be for Mr. Dobbs’ show,” Perez told CNN. “And my reaction was to observe as many others have how kind of strange and unique that particular way at presenting the facts was.”
“I am not accustomed to seeing Lou Dobbs air very straight forward factual evidence,” Perez added, noting it was unusual for the news package to simply end with no comment from Dobbs and then cut to a commercial break.
“I think my main reaction was one of surprise and to think to myself that it was very interesting to see how the interview ultimately played out because I had not been given any reason to expect that was the nature of the story,” Perez said.
Perez also said that he was not made aware prior to the interview that the questions would be solely focused on Smartmatic.
“There was nothing in any of the preliminary conversations that I had with Fox News that gave me any indication that Smartmatic would be a matter of conversation,” Perez said. “It was never mentioned that this was going to be a discussion about Smartmatic or even claims about private vendors. I was anticipating a broader discussion about the debate around the election, election integrity, so on and so forth.”
Asked to describe Fox’s coverage of the election, Perez said that its on-air talent has made allegations “that are speculative and not based in fact, many of which are harmful to enhancing public confidence in the legitimacy of election outcomes.”
But Perez expressed gratitude for being allowed to deliver the facts to the Fox audience in an unfiltered way.
“I felt it was important to talk to Fox News,” Perez told CNN, “if anything potentially more important to be speaking the facts to their audience because there are a lot of consumers of Fox News that have doubts about the election.”