An elections equipment manufacturer targeted by false conspiracy theories around the 2020 election is suing Newsmax and the owner of One America News Network (OANN), alleging the media outlets spread a deliberate disinformation campaign for profit.
Dominion Voting Systems is seeking about $1.6 billion in defamation damages from each of the two media outlets, both of which embraced various election conspiracy theories claiming that then-President Donald Trump should have won the 2020 election.
Dominion is also suing former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne, a prominent Trump supporter and election conspiracy theorist, for $1.6 billion.
The suits, each of which is more than 100 pages, detail extensive falsehoods and absurd claims about Dominion and the 2020 election.
“Newsmax helped create and cultivate an alternate reality where up is down, pigs have wings, and Dominion engaged in a colossal fraud to steal the presidency from Donald Trump by rigging the vote,” Dominion’s lawyers claimed in one suit.
One “expert mathematician” interviewed on OANN was actually an installer at a Long Island swing set construction company, Dominion claims.
The lawsuits add to Dominion’s previous legal efforts to punish media outlets and individuals who spread the widely debunked theories. Dominion has previously sued Fox News, MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, and lawyers Sydney Powell and Rudy Giuliani over similar claims. Those lawsuits are pending.
State and federal election officials and security experts repeatedly attested that the 2020 presidential election was safe and secure, and numerous audits have found no substantiated discrepancies that would affect the election results. But supporters of Trump have pushed numerous unsubstantiated theories to explain why he actually won the election, often by making claims that Dominion’s equipment was involved in various schemes to alter the vote count.
“This barrage of lies by the defendants and others have caused — and continue to cause — severe damage to our company, customers, and employees,” Dominion CEO John Poulos said in an emailed statement. “We have no choice but to seek to hold those responsible to account.”
Newsmax defended the network’s coverage in an emailed statement.
“While Newsmax has not reviewed the Dominion filing, 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 — Dominion’s action today is a clear attempt to squelch such reporting and undermine a free press,” a spokesperson said.
Representatives for OANN and Byrne didn’t return request for comment.
Newsmax and OANN emerged as some of Trump’s most ardent defenders during his administration, even at times edging into Fox News’ audience. Little changed after his election loss, with both channels following Trump’s lead down conspiracy rabbit holes that quickly fell apart in courts around the U.S.
Facing the prospect of legal action, the media outlets began to change programming and issuing disclaimers.
In April, Newsmax published an apology and retraction on its website after settling a lawsuit with Dominion employee Eric Coomer. That apology now appears to be deleted from the site. In February, OANN aired a 90-second disclaimer before a three-hour movie from Lindell featuring a host of election conspiracy theories.
CORRECTION (Aug. 10, 2021, 12:17 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated Patrick Byrne’s relationship to Overstock.com. He is the former CEO, not its current CEO.
Kevin Collier is a reporter covering cybersecurity, privacy and technology policy for NBC News.