OAN to pay MSNBC, Rachel Maddow $250K in defamation lawsuitFebruary 10, 2021
The right-wing network has been ordered to pay the host’s legal fees
Rachel Maddow has emerged victorious in a legal battle with right-wing cable outlet One America News Network after the company failed to prove their defamation case.
Herring Networks, which owns OAN, sued MSNBC for $10 million in September 2019 over a Maddow segment during which she said OAN “really literally is paid Russian propaganda.” Her comment was related to a Daily Beast article about OAN’s alleged link to the Russian government, USA Today reports.
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“We literally learned today that that outlet the president is promoting shares staff with the Kremlin,” Maddow said in a July 22, 2019, episode. “In this case, the most obsequiously pro-Trump right wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda. The on air U.S. politics reporter is paid by the Russian government to produce propaganda for that government.”
OAN fired back, calling the claims “utterly and completely false,” according to legal documents obtained by USA TODAY.
Amy Wolf, a counselor for NBCUniversal, MSNBC’s parent company, noted in a 2019 letter to OAN that Maddow’s comment was a “protected opinion based on disclosed facts.”
“Ms. Maddow’s comment could not have been reasonably understood to mean that the Russian government made checks payable to OAN; indeed, she specifically noted who was paid by Sputnik. Use of the word ‘literally’ here is the kind of figure of speech that connotes opinion and thus cannot give rise to a defamation claim,” the letter stated.
U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant ruled last May that “no set of facts that could support a claim for defamation based on Maddow’s statement.”
The case was permanently dismissed on Friday, with the judge ordering Herring Networks to pay MSNBC and Maddow nearly $250,000 in legal fees.
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“This ruling reflects that One America News’ lawsuit is totally baseless, and we expect to continue to prevail on appeal,” read a statement by MSNBC spokesperson Lorie Acio.
OAN president Charles Herring said the network is “pleased that the fees were reduced by nearly a third by the court. The case is currently under appeal and we’re highly confident that we’ll receive a favorable and just ruling in the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.”
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