Newsmax's legal troubles over its aggressively pro-Trump reporting after the 2020 presidential election have yet to end. Last month, Dominion Voting Systems -- the company that supplied some of the voting technology used in elections -- sued Newsmax, along with fellow pro-Trump outlet One America News Network and others, for their role in pushing false claims about the company.
A Newsmax spokesperson tried to push back by playing victim: "“While Newsmax has not reviewed the Dominion filing, in its coverage of the 2020 Presidential elections, Newsmax simply reported on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the President, his advisors and members of Congress — Dominion’s action today is a clear attempt to squelch such reporting and undermine a free press.” But the lawsuit makes it clear what Newsmax did and why Dominion thinks it was done:
Dominion’s attorneys opened their Newsmax complaint with a series of quotes, including one from Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy in which he said, “In this day and age, people want something that tends to affirm their views and opinions.”
Among other things, the lawsuit singled out one of the network’s signature shows, Greg Kelly Reports, for a segment called “Democracy or Dominion,” based on Powell’s claim that Dominion and Smartmatic software shifted millions of votes.
“Throughout this time, Newsmax recklessly disregarded the truth; indeed, Newsmax knew the statements it repeatedly broadcast about Dominion were lies,” the lawsuit stated. “Specifically, Newsmax knew the vote tallies from Dominion machines had been confirmed by numerous independent audits and hand recounts of paper ballots following the election.” Dominion’s attorneys also pointed to statements from figures such as then-Attorney General William Barr and then-Director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Chris Krebs, debunking the claims.
The lawsuit also pushed back against Newsmax’s argument that it was merely reporting on the election claims.
“Newsmax made the intentional and knowing choice to depict—and then publicize, endorse, and fuel—the lies about Dominion as truth, creating and promoting an alternate reality that duped millions of Americans into believing that Dominion stole the 2020 election from President Trump. It repeatedly broadcast the lies of facially unreliable sources — lies which Newsmax itself adopted, endorsed, promoted, and manufactured,” the lawsuit states.
“In short, this lawsuit is not about Newsmax covering President Trump; it is about Newsmax courting President Trump, by feeding its audience a torrent of lies that supported the false narrative that President Trump won the election.”
As we've documented, Newsmax tried to forestall a lawsuit from Dominion and fellow voting-tech company Smartmatic last December by issuing a statement pushing back against right-wing attacks on the companies -- even though Newsmax made those same attacks on TV and its website. In April, Newsmax settled a lawsuit from Dominion executive Eric Coomer by, in part, issuing a statement defending him.
Newsmax's own article on the latest Dominion lawsuit, by Marisa Herman, gave a further hint at its possible defense:
After the 2020 election, Newsmax interviewed and reported on the statements made by Trump, his attorneys, elected officials, and others who made claims about Dominion.
During its election results coverage, Newsmax made several requests for an interview with Dominion’s spokesman, who declined to come on the network.
Newsmax also hosted and aired multiple guests who claimed the election was not stolen or rigged and disagreed with the Trump campaign claims.
On Dec. 19, 2020, Newsmax issued a statement clarifying its coverage, noting that “No evidence has been offered that Dominion … used software or reprogrammed software that manipulated votes in the 2020 election.”
In correspondence with Dominion, Newsmax also noted that though the Trump campaign did not provide evidence of software manipulation, this does not mean the voting company never acted wrongly.
That appears not to have swayed Dominion enough to keep it from suing Newsmax, so it's unclear how that would hold up in court.