Newsmax settles a defamation lawsuit from a Dominion executive at the center of election conspiracy theories and issues an apology
Category: News & PoliticsVia: jbb • 2 weeks ago • 18 comments
By: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jacob Shamsian) (MSN)
© Provided by Business Insider Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy attends a dinner with Donald Trump and business leaders. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images
- Dominion executive Eric Coomer reached a settlement with Newsmax, which he sued for defamation.
- Newsmax pushed false theories Coomer was in an "Antifa conference call" to rig the election.
- Coomer is still suing others, and his legal efforts are separate from Dominion's own lawsuits.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
An executive at Dominion Voting Systems moved to dismiss Newsmax as a defendant in a defamation lawsuit Friday after reaching a settlement with the right-wing media organization.
It's the first such settlement from a news organization in a defamation lawsuit filed over 2020 election conspiracy theories.
The lawsuit, filed by Dominion's head of product strategy and security Eric Coomer, is among several filed over false claims that election technology companies like Dominion rigged the election against former president Donald Trump and in favor of now-President Joe Biden.
Coomer sued Newsmax in December in state court in Colorado over false claims that he took part in an "Antifa conference call" to rig the 2020 presidential election against Donald Trump. He revised his lawsuit in February to bolster his claims against Newsmax, as Insider previously reported.
On Friday, Newsmax issued a retraction and apology on its website saying it found "no evidence" that earlier claims about Coomer and the 2020 election were true.
"There are several facts that our viewers should be aware of. Newsmax has found no evidence that Dr. Coomer interfered with Dominion voting machines or voting software in any way, nor that Dr. Coomer ever claimed to have done so," the statement reads. "Nor has Newsmax found any evidence that Dr. Coomer ever participated in any conversation with members of 'Antifa,' nor that he was directly involved with any partisan political organization."
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed in the court filings reviewed by Insider. A representative for Coomer declined to comment on the settlement terms. A representative for Newsmax declined to comment and directed Insider to its apology statement.
Coomer went into hiding after receiving death threats over the conspiracies
Coomer first became the subject of conspiracy theories after Joe Oltmann, a right-wing political operative, claimed without evidence that he was a member of "Antifa" - a loosely linked group of left-wing activists who oppose fascist movements - and worked to rig the 2020 election. Numerous lawsuits, recounts, and investigations have turned up no widespread evidence of irregularities in the 2020 election.
Oltmann's baseless claims spread like wildfire in right-wing media circles, and Coomer went into hiding after receiving numerous death threats. Coomer sued more than a dozen right-wing media figures he claims were responsible for pushing the conspiracy theories. He alleged defamation, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and civil conspiracy over the claims.
© Alex Wong/Getty Images President and CEO of Election Systems & Software Tom Burt, President and CEO of Dominion Voting Systems John Poulos, President and CEO of Hart InterCivic Julie Mathis testify during a hearing on Capitol Hill. Alex Wong/Getty Images
Newsmax had steadfastly claimed it did nothing wrong as recently as February, when a spokesperson told Insider that Coomer's lawsuit was politically motivated. The media organization is owned and run by Christopher Ruddy, a close friend of Trump's.
In a statement, Cain and Skarnulis PLLC, the law firm representing Coomer, said he continues to receive death threats.
"Six months after the election, Dr. Coomer continues to receive death threats and harassment from those who believe the false conspiracy theories," the statement reads.
All of the other people and organizations Coomer has sued - including Oltmann, Trump's campaign, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, One America News Network, and others - remain defendants in the lawsuit.
"With respect to the remaining defendants, Dr. Coomer is seeking damages to his reputation and livelihood and, once certified by the court, punitive damages," the statement from Coomer's law firm reads.
Coomer's lawsuit is distinct from the legal efforts of Dominion itself, which is represented by the defamation firm Clare Locke LLP. Dominion has sued Fox News, Powell, Giuliani, and MyPillow mogul Mike Lindell. Smartmatic, another election technology caught up in election conspiracy theories, has filed its own defamation lawsuits against right-wing media figures over the falsehoods.