One America News Network (OANN) filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit Monday against MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, alleging that the host “maliciously and recklessly” suggested on the air that the conservative news channel is a paid Russian state propaganda outlet.
In addition to Maddow, OANN is suing MSNBC, Comcast Corporation and NBC Universal for defamation.
Maddow based her claims on a Daily Beast report alleging that OANN’s Kristian Rouz is a “Russian national on the payroll of the Kremlin’s official propaganda outlet, Sputnik.”
After pointing out that President Trump has promoted OANN because he likes it better than Fox News, Maddow exclaimed, “we literally learned today that the outlet that the president is promoting shares staff with the Kremlin!”
She added that it’s easy in the Trump era to accuse pro-Trump media of being Russian propaganda, “but in this case, the most obsequiously pro-Trump right-wing news outlet in America, really, literally is paid Russian propaganda!” Maddow breathlessly told her MSNBC audience. “Their on-air U.S. politics reporter is paid by the Russian government to produce propaganda for that government.”
One America News Network Sues MSNBC’s #RachelMaddow for an erroneous & #Malicious Message about #OANN. The amount, $10 Million.
Listen to the video from 1:10 to 1:40 & see if you agree that this is #libel.https://t.co/VRIjuvTUs8 #Lawsuit https://t.co/H916XFAlyt
— H L Wegley (@hlwegley) September 9, 2019
Rouz is originally from the Siberian city of Novosibirsk and lives in San Diego, where OANN is based and where he reports on U.S. politics for the 24-hour news channel, according to the Daily Beast. He has reported for Sputnik since at least that long, according to this Reddit report.
OANN demanded a retraction from both the Daily Beast reporter and Maddow on July 29, the Daily Caller reported.
“This is vile, sensationalistic reporting,” OANN’s lawyer, Skip Miller, said according to the press release. “These defamatory statements must be retracted immediately. One America News Network has no connection to the Russian government or any other government — no connection whatsoever, financial or otherwise.”
Comcast is being sued for refusing to carry OANN as part of its cable programming because the network could go against liberal politics of MSNBC, according to the complaint. The lawsuit also alleges that Maddow and the other defendants knew her comment was false. It suggests the statement was intentionally made to hurt OANN because of the network’s conservative views.
OANN’s lawyers gave Maddow and The Daily Beast until Aug. 15 to retract its statements, according to the cease-and-desist requests sent on July 29.
“One America is wholly owned, operated and financed by the Herring family in San Diego,” Miller said according to a statement. “They are as American as apple pie. They are not paid by Russia and have nothing to do with the Russian government.”
“This is a false and malicious libel, and they’re going to answer for it in a court of law.”