Last week, Newsmax was among right-wing media outlets who received a legal notice from Smartmatic, an election technology company that his been named in various election fraud conspiracy theories, demanding a retraction of false and defamatory claims made about the company. Newsmax has censored news of Smartmatic's letter on its website, but it defended itself in a statement to CNBC:
Newsmax, in a statement, said that “Newsmax itself has never made a claim of impropriety about Smartmatic, its ownership or software.”
“Individuals, including plaintiff’s attorneys, Congressmen and others, have appeared on Newsmax raising questions about the company and its voting software, citing legal documents or previously published reports about Smartmatic,” Newsmax’s statement said.
“As any major media outlet, we provide a forum for public concerns and discussion. In the past we have welcomed Smartmatic and its representatives to counter such claims they believe to be inaccurate and will continue to do so.”
But late on Dec. 19 (a Saturday night, a news dead zone), it quietly published an unbylined article, credited only to "Newsmax Wires," headlined "Facts About Dominion, Smartmatic You Should Know."
Newsmax began by stating that "Newsmax would like to clarify its news coverage and note it has not reported as true certain claims made about these companies." Then, the walkbacks began:
There are several facts our viewers and readers should be aware. Newsmax has found no evidence either Dominion or Smartmatic owns the other, or has any business association with each other.
We have no evidence Dominion uses Smartmatic’s software or vice versa.
No evidence has been offered that Dominion or Smartmatic used software or reprogrammed software that manipulated votes in the 2020 election.
Smartmatic has stated its software was only used in the 2020 election in Los Angeles, and was not used in any battleground state contested by the Trump campaign and Newsmax has no evidence to the contrary.
Dominion has stated its company has no ownership relationship with the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's family, Sen. Dianne Feinstein's family, the Clinton family, Hugo Chavez, or the government of Venezuela.
Neither Dominion nor Smartmatic has any relationship with George Soros.
Smartmatic is a U.S. company and not owned by the Venezuelan government, Hugo Chavez or any foreign official or entity.
Smartmatic states it has no operations in Venezuela. While the company did election projects in Venezuela from 2004 to 2017, it states it never was founded by Hugo Chavez, nor did it have a corrupt relationship with him or the Venezuelan government.
Newsmax has uncritically forwarded false attacks on Smartmatic and Dominion. On Nov. 15, for instance, Eric Mack uncritically quoted Rudy Giuliani ranting: "Dominion, when you look into it with just a little bit of investigation, you find out that Dominion uses a software, Smartmatic, which is a company that goes back to 2004. It was founded by two Venezuelans and Cesar Chavez. It has a terrible history of having fixed elections in Argentina, having fixed elections in Venezuela. It was all outlined in 2008 by the House of Representatives."
On Nov. 17, it uncritically quoted Dick Morris saying on a Newsmax TV show, "I do not necessarily believe it was a retail fraud, you know, vote by vote, count by count. ... I think it may well have originated in the Dominion software, in the Smartmatic software that the polling people, voting people used."
One can even go back to 2016, when a Newsmax article documented an appearance on Fox News by Trump supporter Betsy McCaughey, who claimed that "More investigation is needed to be made into Smartmatic, a British voting machine company that is 'very involved' with billionaire George Soros' 'left wing globalist enterprises." McCaughey went on to claim that there is "airtight case against Soros to tilt this election," as he's "very close to Hillary Clinton."
Like Fox News -- which did a similar walkback after receiving a similar legal notice from Smartmatic -- Newsmax does understand the power of a threatened lawsuit over something it couldn't possibly defend.
UPDATE: Newsmax TV host John Tabacco read on the air the article Newsmax posted on its website.