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Smartmatic is suing right-wing media outlets Newsmax and OAN for defamation over election conspiracy theories

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mike lindell oan interview trump rally
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is interviewed by the One America News Network during former U.S. president Donald Trump's rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio, U.S., June 26, 2021. Gaelen Morse/Reuters
  • Smartmatic is suing Newsmax and One America News over election conspiracy theories.

  • It alleges the two right-wing networks defamed them by pushing false claims that it rigged 2020 election results.

  • The company joins Dominion, a rival company also targeted by conspiracy theorists, in filing defamation lawsuits.

Smartmatic filed lawsuits against right-wing media networks One America News Network and Newsmax on Wednesday, claiming that the outlets defamed the election technology company by pushing conspiracy theories over the 2020 US presidential election.

"The damage to Smartmatic from this parallel universe of lies and disinformation has reverberated across the United States and in dozens of countries around the world," Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica said in a statement. "The global repercussions for our company cannot be overstated."

Smartmatic, along with the rival election technology company Dominion Voting Systems, were both subjects of conspiracy theories falsely alleging they were in cahoots with each other, developed secret vote-flipping technology under the regime of now-dead Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, and manipulated the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Both companies have filed numerous defamation lawsuits against conspiracy theorists and the companies they alleged helped push those false claims.

The company has already sued Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, two attorneys who worked for then-President Donald Trump and who pushed the false theories. Smartmatic's new lawsuits claim that Newsmax and OAN defamed the company by giving a platform to Powell and Giuliani to uncritically make their false claims.

The lawsuits, which collectively run to nearly 440 pages, also say the networks' own hosts made false claims about Smartmatic's role in the 2020 election and booked other guests who knew little about election administration but lied about Smartmatic anyway.

"The first time it happened could be a mistake. The second, third, fourth, and fiftieth times it happened were intentional choices," Smartmatic's attorneys wrote in its lawsuit against the company. "OANN had every opportunity to do the right thing after the 2020 election for President and Vice President of the United States. It could have reported the truth. Instead, OANN chose to do the wrong thing every time. It reported a lie."

Rivalries with Fox News

Smartmatic's lawsuit claims Newsmax was motivated by its rivalry with Fox News.

"Since its inception, Newsmax has wanted to be the next Fox News, the most powerful and profitable news organization in the world," the lawsuit reads. "Fox News earned its position by securing billions of loyal viewers across the globe. Fox News has been on top for years among news organizations in the United States and abroad."

Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for President Donald Trump, center, poses for photos with OAN correspondent Chanel Rion, left, and his assistant Christianné Allen, outside the White House, Wednesday, July 1, 2020, in Washington.
Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for President Donald Trump, center, poses for photos with OAN correspondent Chanel Rion, left, and his assistant Christianné Allen, outside the White House, Wednesday, July 1, 2020, in Washington. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

But Newsmax concluded it couldn't compete with Fox News by sticking with fact-based news, so it entered conspiracy theory territory instead, the lawsuit alleges, and booked figures like Powell and Giuliani on its show.

"While Newsmax has yet to receive or review the Smartmatic filing, Newsmax reported accurately on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the President, his advisors and members of Congress, as well as reporting on Smartmatic's claims in its defense," Newsmax spokesperson Anthony Rizzo told Insider. "Smartmatic's action against Newsmax today is a clear attempt to squelch the rights of a free press."

Smartmatic's lawsuit against OAN argues it sought a similar competitive edge. The company pointed out that OAN aired "docu-movies" from MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who's pushed a separate set of conspiracy theories about Dominion and Smartmatic, baselessly claiming their machines were hacked by Chinese authorities.

Both OAN or Newsmax, the lawsuits alleged, avoided booking election technology experts and avoided public officials and stories from reputable news organizations that contradicted their claims.

Representatives OAN didn't immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.

Smartmatic operated in only one county in 2020

Smartmatic also filed a lawsuit in February against Fox News and several of its anchors, as well as Powell and Giuliani. That lawsuit asked for $2.7 billion in damages.

The new lawsuits against OAN and Newsmax ask for damages to be calculated at trial. They also say Smartmatic has paid more than $400,000 for public relations help, $100,000 on cybersecurity increases, and $700,000 on personnel retention ever since it became the subject of conspiracy theories.

The lawsuit against One America News (OAN) was filed in federal court in Washington, DC, and the suit against Newsmax was filed in Delaware state court.

The lawsuits point out an irony in the falsehoods levied against Smartmatic. While conspiracy theorists have sought to depict it as a massive, shadowy company that influenced the outcome in elections nationwide, only one US county used Smartmatic's technology in the 2020 election: Los Angeles, where now-President Joe Biden was widely expected to win.

one america news oan
A reporter with One America News Network works at a campaign rally with President Donald Trump at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport on September 25, 2020 in Newport News, Virginia. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

"Given that Smartmatic had no role in the general election outside of Los Angeles County, Smartmatic had no reason to be concerned about being embroiled in a discussion about election outcomes in some of the states where the vote tally was closer than it was in California," the lawsuits read. "For example, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin were states where the vote tally between the Democratic and Republican nominees for President and Vice President were much closer than the margin in California. But Smartmatic had no role whatsoever in the elections that took place in those states."

The court filings also point out another irony in the falsehoods about Smartmatic. While conspiracy theorists claim that election-flipping technology was developed for use in Venezuela, the truth is that Smartmatic alerted the world in 2017 when the Venezuelan government announced false election results.

"Smartmatic ceased to provide election technology and software in Venezuela after the government announced total vote counts that differed from the actual vote count," the lawsuits say. "Smartmatic publicly revealed that the Venezuelan government had announced an inflated total vote count in 2017."

Read the original article on Business Insider

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