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One America News settles defamation lawsuit from a Dominion executive at the center of election conspiracy theories

Jacob Shamsian   

One America News settles defamation lawsuit from a Dominion executive at the center of election conspiracy theories
  • OAN settled a defamation lawsuit brought by former Dominion executive Eric Coomer.
  • The network falsely claimed Coomer participated in an "Antifa conference call" to rig the election.

The far-right media organization One America News Network has settled a defamation lawsuit brought against the company by Eric Coomer, a former executive of Dominion Voting Systems who went into hiding amid the proliferation of false conspiracy theories about him following Donald Trump's loss in the 2020 election.

In an August 30 filing in Denver County District Court in Colorado, Coomer and the defendants — OAN, its chief White House correspondent Chanel Rion, and parent company Herring Networks — said they jointly agreed to dismiss the case.

"Plaintiff Eric Coomer, Ph.D. and Defendants Herring Networks, Inc. dba One America News Network and Chanel Rion have fully and finally settled the disputes among them concerning Plaintiff's claims against Herring Networks, Inc. dba One America News Network and Chanel Rion only," the filing said.

Law360 first reported on the settlement. The terms were not disclosed in court filings.

Representatives for Coomer and OAN didn't immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider.

Coomer brought his defamation lawsuit in a state court in Colorado, where he lives, in early 2021. It was filed against OAN, as well as former President Trump's 2020 presidential campaign, attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, Newsmax, and a slew of other right-wing organizations and individuals he claimed pushed false claims about him. He has also sued, in a separate lawsuit, conspiracy theorist and pillow salesman Mike Lindell.

One false viral claim, which was perpetuated by OAN, alleged Coomer took part in an "Antifa conference call" to plan how to rig the 2020 presidential election results.

OAN published a number of stories accusing Dominion of rigging the election, some of which have been deleted from its website following lawsuits against the media organization. Rion also made a three-part video called "Dominion-izing the Vote" where she interviewed a conspiracy theorist who falsely claimed Coomer "was responsible for putting his finger on the scales of our election" and "could be tried for treason." Trump posted the video on Twitter, where it ricocheted through right-wing media.

"OANN and Rion took no efforts to verify or corroborate these false allegations before publishing them and disregarded reliable sources establishing the contrary," Coomer's lawyers wrote in his lawsuit. "They had no credible evidence of any 'Antifa conference call;' that Dr. Coomer was part of this purported call; or that Dr. Coomer committed election fraud. Instead, like other Defendants, OANN and Rion knowingly and recklessly published false statements about Dr. Coomer to support a preconceived conspiracy that the election was fraudulent."

Coomer still has ongoing lawsuits against election conspiracy theorists

The conspiracy theories, Coomer said in his lawsuit, led to "an onslaught of harassment and credible death threats issued against him." In December 2020, he went into hiding to protect himself against potential threats.

"All aspects of his life have been altered in response to Defendants' conduct, including things as basic as where
to live, how to go out in public, and when to see family and friends," his lawyers wrote in his suit. "The results of Defendants' ongoing conduct are foreseeable and obscene. This conduct is so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency. It should be regarded as atrocious and determined intolerable in a civilized community."

Coomer filed his lawsuit separately from Dominion, which has separate pending lawsuits against OAN, Newsmax, Giuliani, and Powell. Fox News paid a record $787.5 million to settle Dominion's defamation lawsuit against it in April.

OAN's rival, Newsmax, settled Coomer's claims against it in April 2021, issuing a public apology at the time. It was the first settlement from a news organization in a defamation lawsuit filed over 2020 election conspiracy theories.

"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," Newsmax said in a statement at the time. "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."

Newsmax has since removed the apology from its site.

Coomer's claims against the Trump campaign, Giuliani, Powell, and other defendants remain pending.

Several cable carriers have cut ties with OAN following the 2020 election, leading to financial struggles for the network.

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