Dominion Sues Newsmax, OAN, And The Head Of Overstock.Com For Election-Related Defamation
from the paper-tigers-asked-to-convert-allegations-to-USD dept
The failed insurrection may be over — all but the Capitol cops ending their own lives after being assaulted by “law and order” types, who thought they could bypass the peaceful transfer of power with violence. (Fuck all those people, by the way — all 500+ of them.) But the hope remains. It must have been stolen, say a collection of denialists and grifters. Let’s win back the election process, say those unable to count votes or put their faith in the institution that put their boy in the White House in the first place (looking at you, Electoral College).
So the grift continues. So does the denialism. But it’s going to start costing people some serious money. The people that decided that backdrafting Trump’s odorous emanations following the November election are still theoretically on the hook for besmirching the election process and the machinery behind it.
While it’s always appropriate to question the security and trustworthiness of election tech, it makes zero sense to air a bunch of insane conspiracies as actual fact. A bunch of acolytes thought they could call the presidential election into question if they amplified QAnon-level speculation into the public discourse. The stupidity of these actions has been called out by a frequent target of unvetted speculation: Dominion Voting Systems.
The challenges were only raised in areas where Trump expected to win but lost, indicating these “challenges” had nothing to do with election integrity. After all, if the integrity of the election was in question, wouldn’t these people be questioning election results where Trump won? Everyone knows it’s a façade — a carelessly edited sermon to the converted. Playing to the base usually pays off. But it may not in these cases.
Dominion has been suing over these false statements, implications, and complete, utter bullshit. The company first targeted Trump legal figures (both past and present) like Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani. Now it’s coming for Trump’s favorite non-gorilla-related programmers: One America Network and Newsmax. Both companies stepped up during Trump’s last couple of years mismanaging the country to prove they could be even further right than far-right mainstay Fox News.
Two more lawsuits have been filed by Dominion. They reiterate many of the same allegations raised against Powell and Giuliani. That shows “Republican” figureheads have all been operating off the same cheat sheet when it comes to contesting the parts of the election they don’t like.
I won’t quote the latest lawsuits by Dominion at length. We’ve already covered the lies and misinformation spread by defendants who now claim this was all just heated rhetoric and hyperbole (even when portraying these same claims as “evidence” of voter fraud in lawsuits where they were the plaintiff). It’s all more of the same: a debunking of literally incredible claims by defendants willing to sell out their credibility (if not their defamation insurance providers) by attaching themselves like so many remora on a shark in the midst of capsizing in its own wake.
Here’s one representative accusation (taken from Dominion’s suit [PDF] against One America Network):
OAN spread these lies by broadcasting and promoting interviews with discredited figures such as Sidney Powell, Rudolph Giuliani, Patrick Byrne, and Mike Lindell. But OAN went further, helping create and nurture the false and fabricated Dominion narrative by endorsing, promoting, and manufacturing these known falsehoods, including by pointing to the so-called “evidence” OAN was broadcasting in support of these lies and by falsely claiming the lies had corroborated “all of our investigations.”
To capitalize on the interest its target audience had in the false Dominion narrative, OAN effectively deputized its Chief White House Correspondent, Chanel Rion, as an in-house spokesperson for all Dominion-related content. After priming its viewers with a steady diet of post-election programming falsely claiming Dominion rigged the 2020 election, OAN and Rion began producing an entire line of programming exclusively devoted to defaming Dominion, descriptively named “Dominion-izing the Vote,” which branded OAN’s disinformation and defamation campaign against Dominion into a single catchy phrase that is now synonymous with fraudulently flipping votes.
How much of this will be determined to be defamation rather than heated electoral-related rhetoric remains to be seen. But enough Trump acolytes decided it was better to tongue the ex-presidential boot than protect themselves from billions of dollars of defamation damages. And that’s fine. The law protects the assertions of inveterate assholes. But it doesn’t protect the supposedly factual claims of people not in possession of actual facts. That’s libel. And that’s going to add up to real money should a court decide Dominion is in the right.
Dominion has also sued [PDF] Patrick Byrne, the Overstock.com founder. Someday the time capsule will be exhumed and our descendants will wonder how a pillow salesman and an internet entrepreneur became inextricably entangled in presidential politics. Wikipedia’s explanation of “dark money” will likely fail to clarify anything. But Byrne better have a satisfactory explanation for his decision to translate his late-stage-capitalism failures into election theft electioneering. LOL deeply at the opening sentence:
After blowing up his career at Overstock by having an affair with a Russian spy, Patrick Byrne soon found himself a new pet project: promoting the false narrative that the 2020 election had been stolen. In fact, as Byrne has publicly admitted, he had already committed to that narrative three months before the election took place. After the election, Byrne manufactured and promoted fake evidence to convince the world that the 2020 election had been stolen as part of a massive international conspiracy among China, Venezuelan and Spanish companies, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), prominent Republicans, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Dominion, which, Byrne falsely claimed, committed fraud and helped steal the 2020 presidential election.
Don’t be shitty, Patty. You’re too smart for that, alleges Dominion.
Byrne was not hoodwinked by the ex-con or the conspiracy-theorists-for-hire. He is far too intelligent to buy the nonsense he has been selling to the American public. He is a Dartmouth-educated Marshall Scholar with a PhD from Stanford who, until he was pushed out in disgrace in 2019, had a national platform as the CEO of a multi-billion-dollar company. By lying about the 2020 election, Byrne catapulted himself back into the national spotlight, where he promoted himself as an “us-against-the-world” hero, and won access to the highest echelons of political power, including an in-person meeting with Trump at the White House.
LOL. This is Dominion preemptively striking any motions by Byrne saying he was just talking out of his ass. He had to know what he said was not only false, but demonstrably false. And yet he chose to do it anyway.
Dominion has a high bar to meet in its defamation lawsuits. Good. That’s the way it should be. If defendants can indicate they were just being hyperbolic when discussing election issues, that protects the rest of us who don’t have internet startups or pillow companies to absorb the blows of speech-related lawsuits. But Dominion’s suits appear to allege defendants knew they were trafficking in lies but chose to do so anyway. And that certainly shouldn’t protect the Sydney Powells and OANs of the world from putting their reputations (and liquid funds) at stake to stump for an obstinate failure and his inability to accept reality.