Coates is not alone in believing Smartmatic’s suit poses real threat to Fox. University of Georgia media law professor Jonathan Peters noted on Twitter that “libel law makes it difficult to prevail where the plaintiff is a public figure and/or where the speech involved a matter of public concern. In various ways, these will be key issues in litigation.” But, Peters added that he believed the “smart money” is on Smartmatic…

When I spoke with Smartmatic’s lawyer, Erik Connolly of “pink slime” fame, about the case, I did press him on whether he was worried his suit could set a precedent that could ultimately harm press freedoms. His response was that the lawsuit would actually be beneficial to legitimate news orgs. “I think it’s the type of case that has to be brought right now to try to get us away from disinformation,” Connolly told me. “Disinformation has a free rein right now. This kind of case can be a shot across the bow that courts can deliver that says, ‘Let’s get back to reality. Let’s get back to factual reporting.'”