By now, you probably know my name as the forensic scientist who disproved Mike Lindell’s alleged proof of voting machine hacking in the 2020 election. So it might surprise you that I think Fox News was innocent of any wrongdoing and should have allowed the suit against it by Dominion Voting Systems to go to trial. I believe Fox would have won. Instead, by settling, it looks like Fox did something wrong. Moreover, it sets a very bad precedent.
Now I admit that I only know what I’ve read in the press. As an expert witness in litigation for over two decades, I know that what’s reported in the press is often incomplete and is sometimes completely inaccurate. But given what I’ve read, Fox should have continued the fight. Freedom of the press and legitimate political discourse may depend on it.
If you don’t know my story, I was invited to Mike Lindell’s Cyber Symposium in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in August 2021. Lindell claimed to have data captured from the internet — packet data — that proved that China and/or other foreign or domestic enemies (the story changed from time to time) had changed Trump votes to Biden votes.
I was initially reluctant to go because I figured that no one would offer $5 million if he wasn’t certain of his evidence. Also, given that he had gigabytes or terabytes of data (again, the numbers kept changing), it would take weeks or months to examine and validate; the symposium only lasted three days. I went anyway, at the coaxing of many friends, and it only took me three hours to debunk his claims. According to the arbitrators after I sued him, he now owes me $5 million.
My point is that whether or not I initially believed Lindell’s claims, it took my years of experience and my sophisticated forensics software tools to determine the truth. While I was able to evaluate the data in only a few hours, proving that something is invalid often takes finding only one inconsistency. Conversely, proving that something is valid takes showing that there are no inconsistencies whatsoever. Validating data requires deep expertise and a lot of time. Regardless of what the Fox newscasters, pundits, and executives believed, they couldn’t have known for certain whether or not Dominion voting machines had malfunctioned without hiring experts to investigate for months. (READ MORE by Bob Zeidman: Did the Voting Machines Lie?)
The situation is different for Mike Lindell. He claimed to have hired experts, which he didn’t, and he claimed to have validated the data, which he didn’t. He also ignored the many experts who told him that he was wrong. He knowingly lied, or willfully ignored the evidence, and denigrated a company without evidence. I believe he acted unethically, and for that reason, I predict that he will lose the lawsuit against him from Dominion.
But Fox’s surrender will have horrible consequences. Although a settlement is not a legal precedent, it is a practical one because it creates suspicion in the mind of the public and is an incentive for corporations to sue on similar issues, knowing that the defendants are likely to settle. While other media outlets gloat, they shouldn’t. First, whether Lindell was right or wrong, he was a national figure making claims about a significant event in American history, and a lot of people were taking it seriously. In other words, it was newsworthy by any measure and needed to be reported.
Second, while most news shows rarely present conflicting opinions about subjects anymore, they should, and they should be encouraged to do so. Fox should have interviewed Lindell and questioned him intensely. The network should have also interviewed those with contrary opinions and grilled them, too.
With Fox’s concession to Dominion, news shows, and especially Fox, will now be reluctant to air anything they suspect is not true. In fact, Fox is the only major media outlet that has made no mention of my win against Lindell on its site. Its lawsuit settlement has already influenced the public’s knowledge of important events.
CNN and MSNBC should not gloat but rather should be very worried. Since many of their newscasters believe in gun control, will they never present anyone who supports the Second Amendment? Will they ever invite someone who disagrees with climate change? Similarly, will Fox never interview a pro-choice activist? Or a climate change activist? Will any news outlet ever interview a critic of Google or Facebook or Twitter or Pfizer despite their fear of being sued?
You may argue that these outlets already present unbalanced, one-sided positions, but Fox’s concession will cement that situation, further polarizing America, with little chance of the rigorous debate on important issues that we desperately need.
Bob Zeidman is the creator of the field of software forensics and the founder of several successful high-tech Silicon Valley firms including Zeidman Consulting and Software Analysis and Forensic Engineering.
Dominion’s Decision to Sue Fox News for Its Reporting Is Bad for Journalism