A judge ordered the parent company for right-wing cable network One America News Network to pay MSNBC and host Rachel Maddow nearly $250,000 in leg
A judge ordered the parent company for right-wing cable network One America News Network to pay MSNBC and host Rachel Maddow nearly $250,000 in legal fees after a failed defamation lawsuit.
Herring Networks, which owns OAN, sued MSNBC for $10 million in September 2019 following a segment on Maddow’s show, in which she said OAN “really literally is paid Russian propaganda.” The network called the claims “malicious” and “utterly and completely false” and said it had never received money from Russia or its government, according to legal documents obtained by USA TODAY.
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 court permanently dismissed the case and on Friday awarded the defendants $247,667.50 in legal fees.
USA TODAY has reached out to representatives for OAN, MSNBC and Maddow for further comment.
In a 2019 letter to OAN, Amy Wolf, a counselor for NBCUniversal, MSNBC’s parent company, argued that Maddow’s comment was a “protected opinion based on disclosed facts” following a Daily Beast article that reported OAN reporter Kristian Rouz was also paid to write for Sputnik, which is funded by the Russian government.
“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.”
NBCUniversal’s letter argued that “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.”