In her latest column for the Bulwark, conservative commentator Amanda Carpenter cautions conservatives who are already claiming Tuesday midterm election will be riddled with fraud that they are flirting with legal repercussions if they don't watch what they say.
Her warning comes at a time when GOP candidates like Arizona's Kari Lake and Wisconsin's Ron Johnson are already casting doubt on the election results before the ballots have even been tabulated.
As evidence, she pointed to the multiple defamation lawsuits filed against multiple Trump allies who falsely accused Dominion Voting Systems of stealing the election for President Joe Biden.
"At first glance, it might seem as if the most brazen peddlers of Trump-era misinformation haven’t paid any price for their lies. But let’s look at the record," Carpenter wrote. "Fox News is facing a pair of billion-dollar defamation suits brought by election-technology firms Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic. Fox has also settled with the family of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, putting the network in the same league as InfoWars fabulist Alex Jones, now on the hook to pay Sandy Hook families $965 million in damages."
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As she notes, libel and defamation lawsuits are increasing -- mainly because of the economic impact suffered by victims of smears and rumor-mongering.
"The explanation for the lopsided pursuit of defamation cases has less to do with matters of justice or any special First Amendment protections than with economics. Libel police, thank goodness, are not roaming the Internet like traffic cops scouting for violations; cases can only be brought by people who are both harmed and have means to litigate," she explained. "The latter factor is often decisive, since obtaining legal remedies is expensive, grueling, and time-consuming. Hence the imbalance in enforcing defamation laws: Typically, it’s only worthwhile for plaintiffs to sue deep-pocketed corporate entities where a payout is possible."
To reinforce her point, she cited the widely debunked "2000 Mules" film by conservative provocateur and convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza, which has a brief and troubled history.
"Late last month, Protect Democracy lawyers filed suit against the makers and promoters of the conspiracy movie 2000 Mules on behalf of a private citizen in Georgia who was filmed legally depositing 2020 ballots for himself and his family and falsely labeled a “ballot mule”—that is, someone who illegally trafficked ballots as a means to deprive Donald Trump of his re-election victory," she wrote. "The companion book to the film, also titled 2000 Mules, credited to conservative writer-turned-conspiracist Dinesh D’Souza, was recalled and delayed due to unspecified 'publishing errors.' NPR tracked some of those 'errors' the publisher was apparently attempting to squelch: Uncorrected copies of the book accused some nonprofit organizations by name of participating in 'ballot trafficking' operations."
"What would an appropriate penalty capable of deterring bad actors look like, exactly?" Carpenter wrote. "Protect Democracy’s Ian Bassin is comfortable leaving that decision entirely up to the courts. 'Whatever the courts ultimately determine is the right amount to compensate those who have been injured for their suffering and deter those who are committing these injuries from doing it again, that is what they should be forced to pay,' Bassin told me. 'No more and no less.'"
"Let Protect Democracy’s defamation cases serve as a warning that consequences, whatever they may be, could be coming. At last," she warned.