One of President Donald Trump’s favorite news agencies is suing Rachel Maddow, MSNBC, and Comcast for what it’s saying is defamation of their company, after the progressive television host called out one of its journalists for being “paid Russian propaganda.”
One America News Network, a decidedly pro-Trump organization, sued Maddow on Monday for a July 22 broadcast in which she suggested as much.
Maddow’s commentary on that date’s episode relied on a Daily Beast report, which detailed how OAN reporter Kristian Rouz also freelanced as a writer for the Russian state-sponsored news agency, Sputnik, the Associated Press reported. Rouz has reportedly written around 1,300 articles for that organization, and Maddow, in that July broadcast, connected his reporting to OAN.
“In this case, the most obsequiously pro-Trump right-wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda,” Maddow stated.
She got more specific in her commentary. “Their on-air U.S. politics reporter is paid by the Russian government to produce propaganda for that government,” she added.”
Rouz has maintained that he’s “never written propaganda, disinformation, or unverified information” for Sputnik. OAN attorney Skip Miller blasted Maddow in statements made earlier this week.
I don't know if OAN has a solid case but this fake news needs to be brought to its knees
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— Wayne Dupree Media, LLC (@WayneDupreeShow) September 10, 2019
“One America is wholly owned, operated and financed by the Herring family in San Diego,” Miller said. “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.”
There is significant evidence, however, that could protect Maddow, MSNBC, and Comcast from a defamation ruling. Sputnik is largely considered an arm of the Russian propaganda machine — it’s sometimes referred to as “the BuzzFeed of Propaganda — and is considered a far-right, and questionable source by Media Bias/Fact Check.
“Overall, we rate Sputnik Questionable based on frequent promotion of conspiracies and pro-Russian propaganda, as well as use of poor sources and numerous failed fact checks,” that website explained in its ruling on the news agency.
Media Bias/Fact Check has given similar dubious ratings to OAN itself, rating them as being extreme far-right with “mixed” reporting, “due to promotion of conspiracies, lack of sourcing, and a few failed fact checks.”
And as the Washington Post has noted, Robert Herring Sr., OAN’s owner, has encouraged story selection at the company that minimizes Russia as an aggressor.
Previous reporting from HillReporter.com has indicated that OAN also promotes a number of false stories, including the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, of which all reporting has mysteriously disappeared from its website. The company also pushed the errant ideas that California was seeking to ban the Bible, and that former President Barack Obama backed white genocide in South Africa.
President Trump has promoted OAN’s questionable reporting in the past — including tweeting out a report from them that suggested the mass shooter in Dayton, Ohio, was driven to kill due to his leftist beliefs. So far, there’s been no indication that his being a supporter of progressive causes had anything to do with the shooting that killed nine individuals.
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Chris Walker is a freelance writer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. A millennial with more than a decade of journalism experience, Chris aims to provide readers with the latest and most accurate news of national importance. Chris likes to spend his free time doing activities in his community with his family.