Courtesy : USA Today
Host Rachel Maddow and MSNBC parent company are indeed pushing for the end to a defamation lawsuit that was brought upon on her by Herring Networks, the Owner of One America News Network (OAN). It all began after Maddow's comment about OAN after The Daily Beast published a July 22 article headlined, "Trump’s New Favorite Channel Employs Kremlin-Paid Journalist." According to that story, a politics reporter named Kristian Rouz was appearing on OAN while simultaneously writing for Sputnik, a Kremlin-owned news wire.
On her show that night, Maddow ran with the story, commenting, "We literally learned today that that outlet the president is promoting shares staff with the Kremlin. . . . 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."
In the recent court papers filed on Monday, the TV host has argued that her assessment of the OAN as "paid Russian propaganda" qualifies as an opinion and thus isn't actionable.
OAN's owner is now in court over the characterization and conjuring $10 million in demanded compensatory damages.
"Maddow’s statement is utterly and completely false," states the complaint. "OAN is wholly owned and financed by the Herrings, an American family. OAN has never been paid or received a penny from Russia or the Russian government. Defendants made this false claim to smear OAN’s reputation in retaliation for Plaintiff’s insistence that Defendants treat OAN fairly and offer the OAN news channel to Comcast subscribers."
In a motion to strike the suit, the defendants say OAN "utterly ignores the context of Ms. Maddow’s comment, which is nothing more than a vivid, hyperbolic turn of phrase sandwiched between precise factual recitations that indisputably and accurately state the facts from The Daily Beast article."
Represented by Gibson Dunn's Ted Boutrous, the defendants add that the "comment is fully protected opinion because (a) it was based on disclosed facts, and (b) it does not imply any additional objective facts such that it is capable of being proven false."As for the lawsuit over Maddow's "Russian propaganda" comment, that's getting to a judge for early analysis under California's SLAPP statute. If "Russian propaganda" is not opinion, the defendants swing in the other direction, saying the statement would still be barred from defamation liability because it's "substantially true."