In September of 2019, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was sued by the network that is America’s most worshipful mouthpiece for Donald Trump and radical right politics, One America News (OAN). The suit charged Maddow with defamation because she accurately reported the network’s association with Russian connected media. From the start it was a meritless case that had no hope of success.
OAN’s lawsuit was triggered by a segment on Maddow’s program that revealed that an OAN correspondent, Kristian Rouz, also reported for the Kremlin owned and operated network, Sputnik. Maddow correctly observed that…
“In this case, the most obsequiously pro-Trump right-wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda. Their on-air U.S. politics reporter is paid by the Russian government to produce propaganda for that government.”
In May 2020, the case was thrown out by a U.S. District judge who ruled that “there was no set of facts that could support a claim for defamation based on Maddow’s statement.” In support of that opinion the judge noted that OAN never actually alleged that the facts were defamatory or even that they were in dispute. The ruling affirmed Maddow’s protections under the Constitution’s First Amendment, stating that her commentary consisted of allowable opinion based on truthful and verifiable information.
Now OAN has lost their appeal of that ruling in a federal appeals court. What’s more, OAN has been ordered to pay $250,000 to MSNBC for legal fees. According to the Daily Beast…
“Fringe right-wing network One America News lost the appeal of its defamation suit against MSNBC and star host Rachel Maddow on Tuesday, with a panel upholding a previous federal court ruling against OAN that required them to pay $250,000 of the defendants’ legal fees.
“OAN, owned by Herring Networks, initially sued Maddow for $10 million in July 2019 after the MSNBC star said on her show that the Trump-boosting network is “paid Russian propaganda,” calling her remarks ‘malicious and utterly false.'”
Why OAN ever sought to file this suit in the first place is curious. They knew that their “reporter” was a Russian Sputnik stooge. They knew that Maddow merely reported that fact. And considering the torrent of falsehoods that are broadcast on OAN everyday, you would think they they would be hesitant to draw attention to their unsavory relationship with Russian shills.
Furthermore, OAN has been disseminating Russian propaganda in their regular programming by latching on to Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him. That’s precisely the same narrative that Russia uses to undermine faith in American democracy. Their extremism has gone so far as to actually call for the execution of Trump critics.
This failed lawsuit by OAN is not their only legal tribulation. They are also being sued by Dominion voting Systems for defamation in a multibillion dollar case that includes Fox News as a defendant.
OAN is well aware of the legal jeopardy they face, as they demonstrated when they ran a hysterical “disclaimer” prior to a program featuring the MyPillow guy, Mike Lindell, asserting that he had “Absolute Proof” of election fraud. He didn’t. And yet, OAN is still embracing Lindell and Trump and their election lies. This is going to cost them bigly before it’s through.
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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.