Hooray, more defamation lawsuits! Everything's going to shit, but on the bright side, it's a golden age for libelslander litigation.

The newest batch of batshittery comes to us courtesy of the voting machine company Smartmatic, which is suing Newsmax and One America News Network for allllll the moneys.

In all of US America, Los Angeles County was the only jurisdiction in the country to use Smartmatic's machines during the 2020 election. Nevertheless, Rudy and the Kraken Krew claimed that Smartmatic was part of a vast conspiracy to put Joe Biden in the White House, using the names Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems interchangeably and insisting that the companies were somehow linked. Sidney Powell repeatedly insisted that all Dominion machines had Smartmatic's "DNA" inside them, conveniently merging two companies that are in fact competitors into one nefarious behemoth. And thanks to the rabid fartsniffers in Wingnutistan, there was no shortage of conspiracy theories involving George Soros and the Clinton Foundation to make it seem like a grand plot was afoot.


Seriously, just look at this syphilitic dementia bullshit that aired on OANN on November 19 of last year:

GUEST: [T]hey have been around since 2004, at least in Serbia. Dominion and the Clinton Foundation, they have a project together called the Delian Project, which apparently raises money to help voter fairness in countries like, I don't know, maybe Albania or countries that are not – don't have a strong economy or they're not too strong. Meanwhile, they are doing the opposite, so, you know, when you see weak states like those, this is the perfect playground for George Soros because, believe it or not, George Soros's son is constantly in Albania. Albanians are friends of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, but, remember this: In 2016, right before the election in 2016, Hillary Clinton was so sure she was going to win. The only reason she was sure she was gonna win, is because they knew Dominion and the software, Smartech – Smartmatic was in existence, and that's how they were going to get the election. They just didn't expect – they didn't realize how many Americans were going to vote for Donald Trump, and that's how they probably lost that election.

Well ... those are all words. But they're clearly not words with a scintilla of credibility, and yet OANN and Newsmax aired hour after hour of this arglebargle, spending months flogging the debunked claim that the election had been stolen via the plaintiff's voting machines.

As in the defamation suits filed by Dominion against Newsmax and OANN, Smartmatic alleges that the networks deliberately aired these wild claims in an attempt to poach viewers from Fox, which annoyed its audience by occasionally acknowledging the objective reality that Hugo Chavez and George Soros weren't cahootsing to steal the election from Trump via Chinese thermostats and Italian space lasers.

"Newsmax quickly learned that it could not compete, much less surpass, Fox News by publishing fact-based news," the plaintiff alleges. "That did not sell. So Newsmax decided to change its approach."

And apparently that new approach was pretty effective:

Newsmax's strategy worked. Newsmax's viewership skyrocketed. Newsmax's average viewership was 58,000 viewers a night before it started its disinformation campaign about the 2020 U.S. election. It grew 900% as a result of its campaign. Newsmax knew it had a story that was getting people to tune in to its shows so Newsmax ran the story night after night. It had finally found a formula that could close the gap with Fox News.

Smartmatic made the same claims about OANN using election lies to steal market share from Fox. But the conduct of the defendants appears to have diverged in mid-December when Smartmatic sent retraction demand letters to the two networks.

"Newsmax did the only thing it could in response to Smartmatic's retraction demand letter," the plaintiffs write. "It admitted it had no evidence for what it had been publishing about Smartmatic for over one month," publishing an article on its website titled "Facts About Dominion, Smartmatic You Should Know" and forcing its anchors to read scripts on air admitting that there was no evidence of fraud using Smartmatic's machines.

OANN, however, took a different tack, Smartmatic alleges: "OANN had found its niche and did not want the gravy train to end. OANN soon found another way to distinguish itself from the competition—ignore a retraction demand."

Perhaps sensing a chance to pick up viewers from a rival in its own tier, OANN mocked Newsmax's retraction on air during a December 26 broadcast, with one host laughing that "They look like a hostage" and another accusing Smartmatic of "bullying them through litigation." A third host opined that "the answer and response to that is, great, we look forward to taking discovery, we'll depose you, [...] we'll depose you and your board of directors, and we'll look at your financials." (Bookmark that one for the "careful what you wish for, asshole" file.)

Then OANN started airing Mike Lindell's wackass "documentaries" with their crazy allegations of widespread election fraud he could "prove" by tracing server pings, or PCAPS, or underpants gnomes, or God only knows what else. And no, Smartmatic will not be accepting the disclaimer aired before the programs as a get out of liability free card.

As with the Dominion suits, Smartmatic's case against Newsmax was filed in Delaware state court (presumably because both are Delaware companies, and so they lack diversity for the purpose of obtaining federal jurisdiction), and the OANN claim was filed in federal court in DC. They're seeking jury trials, and, although the damages are unspecified, safe to say it's a whole shit ton of money: "Smartmatic's business was valued in excess of $3.0 billion based on a modest multiplier. Now, following OANN's publication of its defamatory statements, Smartmatic's business is valued at less than $1 billion."

And if OANN and Newsmax weren't already shitting their pants, the attorney J. Erik Connolly, of Chicago firm Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP, won the largest media defamation settlement in American history, netting $177 million from ABC from a beef producer whose product was described as "pink slime." And that was a negotiated deal so ABC wouldn't have to risk it with a jury. Because juries are funny, and you never know what they'll do.

HA HA.

[Smartmatic v. OANN, complaint / Smartmatic v. Newsmax, complaint]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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