A federal judge on Friday dismissed a $10 million defamation lawsuit by One America News (OAN) against Rachel Maddow, finding that a “reasonable viewer” would know the MSNBC prime-time host was only offering her opinion when she called the right-leaning network “paid Russian propaganda.”
“Maddow had inserted her own colorful commentary into and throughout the segment, laughing, expressing her dismay (i.e., saying ‘I mean, what?’) and calling the segment a ‘sparkly story’ and one we must ‘take in stride,'” Judge Cynthia Bashant wrote Friday.
“For her to exaggerate the facts and call OAN Russian propaganda was consistent with her tone up to that point, and the Court finds a reasonable viewer would not take the statement as factual given this context,” Bashant added.
The suit filed in September argued that Maddow made “utterly and completely false” statements about OAN being “paid Russian propaganda” because the network “is wholly financed by the Herrings, an American family, [and] has never been paid or received a penny from Russia or the Russian government.”
Maddow also cited a report from The Daily Beast, which found OAN employed “a Kremlin-paid journalist.”
“Instead, he or she would follow the facts of the Daily Beast article; that OAN and Sputnik share a reporter and both pay this reporter to write articles. Anything beyond this is Maddow’s opinion or her exaggeration of the facts,” the judge noted in the ruling.
OAN responded by saying it will appeal the decision.
“The Herrings and OAN do not receive any money from the Russian government, OAN does not get paid by Russia, and OAN has absolutely no relationship with Russia,” the company said in a statement. “The court’s finding that no reasonable person could conclude that Maddow’s statement was one of fact is incorrect.”
The cable news channel launched in 2013 and has national distribution on DirecTV, Verizon Fios and AT&T U-verse. It can be seen in approximately 35 million homes.