Still stand by those false election fraud claims, guys?
If Fox News is the gravitational center of the expansive galaxy of pro-Trump, pro-authoritarianism, anti-everything else media networks, then close behind it are One America News Network (OANN) and Newsmax — each of which offers a less refined and decidedly more enthusiastic version of Fox News’s slick corporate grievance airing. And never was that more evident than in the immediate aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat, when both networks leapt headfirst into Trumpworld’s wholly delusional fantasy of mass electoral fraud.
On Wednesday, however, those editorial decisions landed each network in the decidedly awkward spot of being hit with what is likely a billion dollar lawsuit apiece, brought by one of the voting technology companies at the heart of the conservative “stolen election” fairy tale.
Citing “the disinformation campaigns conducted by Newsmax and OANN,” attorneys for election tech firm Smartmatic alleged that both networks “victimized” the company “by spreading false information about the company following last year’s election, all in their efforts to increase viewership and revenue.” And while neither suit names a specific price being asked as compensation, the company claims the damages incurred as a result of the alleged defamation totals in the area of $2 billion.
“The damage to Smartmatic from this parallel universe of lies and disinformation has reverberated across the United States and in dozens of countries around the world,” company CEO Antonio Mugica said in a statement accompanying the lawsuits. Smartmatic has already filed similar suits against Fox News, as well as notoriously inept Trump associates Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, each of whom helped spearhead the false claims of election fraud. That suit, one of the largest defamation cases in U.S. legal history, has asked for more than $2.5 billion in damages.
In their respective suits against Newsmax and OANN, Smartmatic attorneys cite multiple instances of each network questioning, speculating on, and broadcasting various allegations against the company for its involvement in the 2020 election. In particular, OANN is targeted by Smartmatic attorneys for having broadcast bedding magnate Mike Lindell’s Absolute Proof infomercial, which the network knowingly framed as Lindell’s sole opinion while simultaneously touting it as a “documentary” and “never before seen report.” Lindell, incidentally, has also been sued for more than a billion dollars in damages over his role in pushing the false stolen election claims.
Making matters worse for OANN and Newsmax is the fact that Smartmatic isn’t the only election tech company suing over the networks’ baseless claims of fraud. Earlier this summer Dominion Voting Systems also sued the networks, alleging similar damages inflicted by the false claims of electoral conspiracy and tampering. Unlike Smartmatic, whose software was only used in Los Angeles County during the 2020 election, Dominion systems were in place across multiple states.
In a statement to Reuters, a Newsmax spokesperson pushed back on the lawsuit, saying the network “accurately reported on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the president, his advisers, and members of Congress, as well as reporting on Smartmatic’s claims in its defense.”
“Smartmatic’s action against Newsmax today is a clear attempt to squelch the rights of a free press,” the spokesperson continued. Good luck with that!