One America News (OAN), a growing cable and satelite news channel, has filed a lawsuit alleging talk show host Rachel Maddow defamed the company when she said OAN “really literally is a paid Russian propaganda.”
The suite states Maddow’s comment was partly a retaliation for complaints against MSNBC parent company Comcast for choosing not to carry OAN.
OAN is a privately owned San Diego based startup, founded and financed by Charles Herring and family. The group claims after sending an email to Comcast that called out anti-competitive censorship, MSNBC retaliated by having its most popular show open with defamatory statements.
“Their on-air U.S. politics reporter is paid by the Russian government to produce propaganda for that government,” Maddow said in an opening statement on The Rachel Maddow Show.
Maddow was refering to Kristian Rouz, an on-air reporter who previously worked as a writer for Sputnik News, a media outlet said to have ties to the Russian government.
The lawsuit recognizes the ties, but states Rouz “chose the topics and viewpoints of the articles he wrote for Sputnik News.”
During the broadcast, Maddow said, “In this case, the most obsequiously pro-Trump right-wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda.”
A statement from Rouz in the lawsuit says he wrote nearly 1,300 articles for Sputnik over a period of four and a half years. “I have never written propaganda, disinformation, or unverified information,” the statement reads.
“One America is wholly owned, operated and financed by the Herring family in San Diego. They are as American as apple pie. They are not paid by Russia and have nothing to do with the Russian government,” an attorney representing OAN, said in a released statement. “This is a false and malicious libel, and they’re going to answer for it in a court of law.”
The lawsuit seeks $10 million from Maddow, MSNBC, Comcast, and NBCUniversal Media.
Last month, President Trump praised OAN in a tweet that stated, “Watching Fake News CNN is better than watching Shepard Smith, the lowest rated show on @FoxNews. Actually, whenever possible, I turn to @OANN!”