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'Rhetorical hyperbole’ and NOT FACT: Court rejects OAN suit over MSNBC host Rachel Maddow’s claim about 'Russian propaganda’

'Rhetorical hyperbole’ and NOT FACT: Court rejects OAN suit over MSNBC host Rachel Maddow’s claim about 'Russian propaganda’
A US judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit by One America News Network against MSNBC over Rachel Maddow's claims that OAN was “literally” Russian propaganda, ruling that her segment was merely “an opinion” and “exaggeration.”

OAN sued the liberal talk show host and MSNBC for defamation, demanding over $10 million in damages,  back in September 2019. The lawsuit was based on the July 22 episode of The Rachel Maddow Show, where Maddow launched a scathing broadside against the conservative television network, labeling it “the most obsequiously pro-Trump right wing news outlet in America” and “really literally paid Russian propaganda.”

In the segment, Maddow cited a story by The Daily Beast’s Kevin Poulsen about OAN’s Kristian Rouz, who has previously contributed to Sputnik as a freelance author. Toeing the general US mainstream line on the Russian media, be it Sputnik or RT, Poulsen branded the Russian news agency “the Kremlin’s official propaganda outlet” and said Rouz was once on its “payroll.”

Also on rt.com Russiagate queen reigns no more: Rachel Maddow ratings tank after collusion narrative implodes

Shortly after MSNBC’s star talent peddled the claim, OAN rejected the allegations as “utterly and completely false.” The outlet, which is owned by the Herring Networks, a small California-based family company, said that it “has never been paid or received a penny from Russia or the Russian government,” with its only funding coming from the Herring family.

In their bid to win the case, Maddow herself, MSNBC, Comcast Corporation and NBCUniversal Media did not address the accusation itself - namely, that her claim about OAN was false - but opted to invoke the First Amendment, insisting that the rant should be protected as free speech.

Siding with Maddow, the California district court defined Maddow’s show as a mix of “news and opinions,” concluding that the manner in which the progressive host blurted out the accusations “makes it more likely that a reasonable viewer would not conclude that the contested statement implies an assertion of objective fact.”

The statement constitutes opinion and rhetorical hyperbole protected under the First Amendment

The court said that while Maddow “truthfully” related the story by the Daily Beast, the statement about OAN being funded by the Kremlin was her “opinion” and “exaggeration” of the said article.
 
While the legal trick helped Maddow to get off the hook without ever trying to defend her initial statement, conservative commentators on social media wasted no time in pointing out that dodging a payout to OAN literally meant admitting that Maddow was not, in fact, news.

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