Dominion Voting Systems on Tuesday added far-right networks Newsmax and One America News Network (OAN), as well as chaotic former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, to its growing list of entities the company says pushed damaging conspiracy theories.
Dominion claims that the trio attempted to legitimise the totally baseless and shifty conspiracy theory that its voting machines in the 2020 presidential election were “rigged” in U.S. President Joe Biden’s favour, thus propping up Donald Trump’s lie, which in turn led to an armed mob storming the Capitol in January. In each case, Dominion has asked for over $US1.73 ($2.4) billion for defamation, lost profits and enterprise value, security expenses, and expenses for hosing down the disinformation inferno.
In a statement to Gizmodo, Dominion CEO John Poulos wrote that the “barrage of lies” from Newsmax, OAN, and Byrne “have caused — and continue to cause — severe damage to our company, customers, and employees. We have no choice but to seek to hold those responsible to account.”
Presumably, all of these entities would have anticipated exorbitantly expensive suits. Dominion has fired off legal complaints against Fox News, MyPillow’s Mike Lindell, and attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, who all face over $US1 ($1) billion in demands for damages.
Amongst hundreds of pages in new complaints, Dominion recounts public statements the company says show that OAN, Newsmax, and Byrne didn’t believe their own garbage, which enflamed death threats against company employees, while reliable outlets scrambled to debunk their destructive nonsense.
The complaint against the far-right bunk network OAN opens with a quote from former OAN producer Marty Golingan, who told the New York Times that most people at the network didn’t believe the voting machine lies and that “a lot of people” agreed that it was “insane.” Amongst other claims, Dominion pointed out, some were immediately disprovable, like the idea that Dominion was involved in ballot tampering in cities that didn’t even use their machines. OAN also ran a recurring chyron reading, “DOMINION-IZING THE VOTE,” a bunch of bullshit charts and graphs, and threw in some junk about Antifa for good measure. Then the network ran with it through 2021, and lo and behold the OAN logo flew on a flag at the violent Capitol insurrection.
Dominion goes on to list people totally unqualified to offer proof, including a swing set installer described as an “expert mathematician”; MyPillow’s Mike Lindell, who got airtime for his “docu-movies”; a 24-year-old “Stop the Steal” organiser described as a “political consultant”; and former 8kun admin Ron Watkins, described as a “large systems technical analyst” and possibly a source of the conspiracy against Dominion. (Soon after major news outlets called the race for Biden, Watkins seems to have come up with the idea of unscrupulously pulling supposedly indemnifying details from Dominion’s technical manual.) Dominion also asserts that OAN and host Christina Bobb were “helping fund activities designed to generate more false claims about Dominion,” including the sham audit of ballots in Arizona’s Maricopa County.
This dragged on well into 2021, even after Dominion sued Fox News and a bevy of conspiracy theorists, which granted OAN additional time to shoot itself in the foot, legally speaking. After Dominion sent numerous retraction letters, which OAN apparently ignored, it did slap a CYA label on one of Lindell’s “docu-movies,” claiming that the network doesn’t endorse his views — but, Dominion says, that doesn’t really cover it.
OAN figures went so far as to air calls for violence against Dominion employees, with one anchor proposing “execution” of Dominion’s “traitors,” the lawsuit claims. Weeks later, Dominion notes, someone threw a brick through its window. It further claims that employees received death threats such as, “we are already watching you. Come clean and you will live” and that they would “blow your fucking building up.” A message to Dominion’s customer support line cited in the lawsuit against OAN said:
You’re all fucking dead, You’re all fucking dead. We’re bringing back the firing squad and you fuckers are all dead, everybody involved up against the wall you motherfuckers. We’re gonna have a fucking lottery to fucking give people a chance to shoot you motherfuckers you fucking wait you cocksuckers you commie pieces of shit. We’re going to fucking kill you all you motherfuckers.
OAN CEO Robert Herring, who is also named in Dominion’s lawsuit, did not yet respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
Dominion’s suit against Newsmax claims it’s much the same as OAN: a propaganda network willing to shill any line Trump fed them, as a Fox competitor banking on conspiracy-fuelled ratings. Like OAN, Newsmax featured the rotating cast of goons, Powell, Giuliani, Byrne, and Lindell. It pushed wild fiction about Hugo Chavez’s supposed involvement, and an anchor added an Antifa spin. Dominion claims that one particular Powell interview directly provoked death threats against Georgia’s governor and secretary of state.
A Newsmax spokesperson told Gizmodo that it has not yet reviewed the complaint but that “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.” Newsmax pointed us to a December 2020 article intended to “clarify” its Dominion coverage, noting that it has no evidence that Dominion manipulated votes, nor that it is connected to George Soros or Hugo Chavez. In its complaint, Dominion argued that copping to the lack of evidence isn’t the same as setting the record straight with the scads of evidence to the contrary.
Of the three newly filed complaints, Dominion’s suit against Patrick Byrne starts with the sauciest opening salvo: “After blowing up his career at Overstock by having an affair with a Russian spy…,” a reference to the Maria Butina scandal which you can dig into here. It goes on to paint a picture of a man slowly unravelling into deranged tales of government cover-ups and an $US18 ($25) million bribe to Hillary Clinton, which spiraled into his Deep State election-rigging bit. As proof that Byrne was grasping at straws, they note that he later retroactively expanded the supposed Dominion scheme to include a previous election that didn’t involve the machines at all.
Dominion claims Byrne bankrolled a team before the election to manufacture proof of fraud, subsidized a bogus audit, advocated for blockchain voting that could possibly enrich him, and serial defamation. The suit further claims Byrne went on Newsmax and OAN peddling disproven and obviously false claims from the audit even after officials disavowed it, and made sweeping claims about a Deep State conspiracy at “high levels.” Dominion points to instances in which Byrne suggested that Dominion had put out a hit on former DNC employee Seth Rich and insinuated that Chief Justice John Roberts is a pedophile. Even after Dominion filed its first series of $US1 ($1).6-billion suits over false election conspiracy theories, Byrne screened a bunk-riddled documentary, The Deep Rig.
In a statement to Gizmodo, Byrne brushed off the suit as a smokescreen against forthcoming evidence that may prove him correct. “Between the imminent release of the Maricopa Audit and Lindell’s current activities in South Dakota, Dominion is about to have a very tough week: they are doing this as a distraction,” he wrote.
If you care for more conspiracy theory content, peruse the hundreds of pages of complaints below.