Legal protections against defamation are providing an expensive counterbalance to disinformation as lawsuits continue to be successful in stopping some of the most brazen cases of lies about the 2020 election.
Writing in The Washington Post on Tuesday, Aaron Blake reported that conspiracy theories about voting machines have liability unlike that of general claims of the election being rigged.
"While broad claims of voter fraud are relatively unspecific, there are relatively few voting-machine companies and people handling votes. Making such claims impugns them specifically and creates a situation in which those assertions can lead to calculable personal and business harm, which is important when it comes to suing someone for defamation. Such claims have also put the lawyers who promoted them at risk of incurring professional sanctions," he explained. "The result: Many of the high-profile purveyors of such claims have since backed off, issuing corrections, clarifications or apologies."
That dynamic was on full display on Tuesday as far-right cable network OAN announced a legal settlement had been reached and issued an apology.
OAN admitted on-air that there was "no widespread voter fraud."
MSNBC anchor Alicia Menendez interviewed Ian Bassin, who represented Georgia election official Ruby Freeman and her daughter. He served as an associate White House counsel during the Obama administration.
"It's just so wild that she was being accused of corruption by the people who were actually corrupt, and that what happened to her does not exist in isolation — a trial in Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against Fox News set for April of next year. How do you think Ms. Freeman's settlement with OAN plays into that trial?"
"I think one thing that's clear already is that defamation litigation is working as a method to correct injurious and intentional lies. So for example, one day after the voting machine company Smartmatic sued Lou Dobbs and Fox News, Fox severed ties with Lou Dobbs," Bassin noted.
"And I would speculate that Fox calculated that Dobbs was costing them potentially more money and liability on the air than it would cost them to buy out his contract. DirecTV has dropped One America News from its channel lineup," he continued. "And just this week, it was reported that Newsmax apparently canceled a segment about a new conspiracy it felt about the election."
"And there are too I would speculate the fact that Newsmax settled with an employee of another voting machine company — a defamation case — probably something to do with that," Bassin said.
Watch the segment below or at this link.
Ian Bassin www.youtube.com