Dominion Voting Systems has filed defamation lawsuits against Newsmax, One America News Network and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne over the advancement of conspiracy theories that company had a role in rigging the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Each lawsuit seeks more than $1.6 billion in damages.
The Newsmax lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of Delaware, and the claims against One America parent Herring Networks and Byrne were filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia. Also named in the One America complaint were owners Robert Herring and Charles Herring and One America personalities Chanel Rion and Christina Bobb.
“During and after the November 2020 election, OAN saw a business opportunity,” the company said in the OAN complaint (read it here). “Spurred by a quest for profits and viewers, OAN — a competitor to media giant Fox — engaged in a race to the bottom with Fox and other outlets such as Newsmax to spread false and manufactured stories about election fraud.”
In a statement, Dominion CEO John Poulos said: “The defendants in today’s filings recklessly disregarded the truth when they spread lies in November and continue to do so today. We are filing these three cases today because the defendants named show no remorse, nor any sign they intend to stop spreading disinformation. This barrage of lies by the Defendants and others have caused — and continue to cause — severe damage to our company, customers, and employees. We have no choice but to seek to hold those responsible to account.”
In March, Dominion also sued Fox News for $1.6 billion. The network is seeking to have the claim dismissed, as it contends that the Dominion’s action is a First Amendment attack on their reporting of then-President Donald Trump’s election claims. The network also is seeking dismissal of a separate lawsuit filed by another election systems company, Smartmatic, with oral arguments in the case scheduled for August 17.
A Newsmax spokesperson said of lawsuit: “While Newsmax has not reviewed the Dominion filing, in its coverage of the 2020 Presidential elections, Newsmax simply reported on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the President, his advisors and members of Congress — Dominion’s action today is a clear attempt to squelch such reporting and undermine a free press.”
A One America spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment. Byrne could not immediately be reached.
The One America lawsuit begins with a quote from a former OAN producer, Marty Goligan, that he gave to The New York Times: “The majority of people [at OAN] did not believe the voter fraud claims being run on air.”
“Over the course of several months, OAN manufactured, endorsed, repeated, and broadcast a series of verifiably false yet devastating lies about Dominion,” the lawsuit states, citing claims that the company rigged the election, was involved in an effort to rig elections for Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez and that it was involved with alleged voting irregularities in Philadelphia and Dallas. Dominion voting systems, the lawsuit noted, are not even used in those cities.
“On their own, these lies would have been more than enough to irreparably harm Dominion,” the lawsuit stated.
While OAN featured guests like Byrne, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, attorney Sidney Powell and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell who advanced the conspiracy theories, Dominion’s lawsuit argued that the network “went further” in creating a “false and fabricated narrative,” including “by pointing to the so-called ‘evidence’ OAN was broadcasting in support of these lies and by falsely claiming the lies had corroborated ‘all of our investigations.'” The lawsuit singled out Rion for her role, with segments branded as which branded “Dominion-izing the vote.” Bobb also was named as someone who was not only making the false election claims, the lawsuit stated, but who “was simultaneously and covertly moonlighting as a Trump Campaign advisor.”
In February, OAN aired Lindell’s documentary on the election fraud claims, Absolute Proof, but it preceded it with a lengthy disclaimer. The lawsuit also cited OAN’s support of a current election audit in Maricopa County, AZ, which election officials have called into question for its methods and veracity, as the network, Bobb and Rion raised money to fund the effort.
“These efforts resulted in a sham ‘audit’ of the 2020 Presidential Election in Maricopa County, Arizona, generating additional fodder for OAN to use in its defamatory campaign against Dominion — with OAN given the exclusive right to broadcast the proceedings,” the lawsuit stated.
In the Newsmax lawsuit, Dominion claimed that the network advanced similar false election conspiracy theories. Dominion’s attorneys opened their Newsmax complaint with a series of quotes, including one from Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy in which he said, “In this day and age, people want something that tends to affirm their views and opinions.”
Among other things, the lawsuit singled out one of the network’s signature shows, Greg Kelly Reports, for a segment called “Democracy or Dominion,” based on Powell’s claim that Dominion and Smartmatic software shifted millions of votes.
“Throughout this time, Newsmax recklessly disregarded the truth; indeed, Newsmax knew the statements it repeatedly broadcast about Dominion were lies,” the lawsuit stated. “Specifically, Newsmax knew the vote tallies from Dominion machines had been confirmed by numerous independent audits and hand recounts of paper ballots following the election.” Dominion’s attorneys also pointed to statements from figures such as then-Attorney General William Barr and then-Director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Chris Krebs, debunking the claims.
The lawsuit also pushed back against Newsmax’s argument that it was merely reporting on the election claims.
“Newsmax made the intentional and knowing choice to depict—and then publicize, endorse, and fuel—the lies about Dominion as truth, creating and promoting an alternate reality that duped millions of Americans into believing that Dominion stole the 2020 election from President Trump. It repeatedly broadcast the lies of facially unreliable sources — lies which Newsmax itself adopted, endorsed, promoted, and manufactured,” the lawsuit states.
“In short, this lawsuit is not about Newsmax covering President Trump; it is about Newsmax courting President Trump, by feeding its audience a torrent of lies that supported the false narrative that President Trump won the election.”
In December, in response to legal threats, Newsmax aired a clarification segment in which it fact checked and refuted claims of election rigging. One of its personalities, John Tabacco, read a statement in which he said that “no evidence has been offered that Dominion or Smartmatic used software or reprogrammed software that manipulated votes in the 2020 election.”
But in its lawsuit, Dominion said that Newsmax’s response was insufficient.
“If Newsmax cared about the truth — if it cared about informing (rather than deceiving) its viewers — it would identify for its viewers each specific lie it broadcast, promoted, and endorsed in November and December 2020, tell its viewers in no uncertain terms that those lies were false, and explain to its viewers all the voluminous evidence debunking those lies,” according to the lawsuit.
Dominion claims that, in addition to promoting false conspiracy theories himself, Byrne bankrolled efforts. But the lawsuit also suggested a motive — that he has invested in blockchain voting technology, “which can succeed only if voters and elected officials reject the auditable paper-based voting systems currently provided by Dominion.”
“It may be plausibly inferred that Byrne is currently financially invested in—or otherwise connected to those who stand to gain from—the rejection of Dominion in favor of blockchain technology,” Dominion’s legal team claimed.