Newsmax And Pro-Trump Media Walk Back Voting Conspiracies After Legal Threat
Newsmax, a far-right news network that routinely disseminates unsubstantiated conspiracy theories favoring Donald Trump, embarked on an in-depth clarification of its coverage of election fraud in the presidential election over the weekend.
In a nearly two-minute statement read on all Newsmax shows, the broadcaster essentially goes back to its unsubstantiated claims that electronic voting companies Smartmatic and Dominion were involved in a nefarious attempt to steal the election.
"There are several facts that our viewers and readers should know," said presenter John Tabacco on Monday before debunking a long list of conspiratorial allegations.
“Neither Dominion nor Smartmatic have any relationship with George Soros. Smartmatic is a US company and is not owned by the Venezuelan government, Hugo Chavez, or any foreign official or corporation. Smartmatic says there are no surgeries in Venezuela, ”he continued.
Newsmax's attempt to "clear up" its misinformation, which has the tone of a red legal statement, came after Smartmatic last week issued a series of legal threats against far-right media companies demanding withdrawals and suggesting prosecution of defamation suits. So far, Fox Business, Fox News and Newsmax have aired segments that appear to be defending themselves against such legal action.
On Friday, top Fox Business host Lou Dobbs led a premade segment in which election security expert Eddie Perez debunked various claims related to Smartmatic and Dominion. Fox News host Jeanine Pirro aired the same clip on Saturday in which Perez stated that he had seen no evidence of election fraud related to Smartmatic.
After the clips aired, Perez told CNN that in preliminary talks with Fox, he had no idea that he would be asked about Smartmatic or that his interview would serve as a fact check for the network. Perez also described Fox News' coverage of the election as "unfounded".
The Newsmax and Fox clarifications are an abrupt turn after weeks of promoting conspiracies related to the integrity of the elections as far-right media pointed out that the election was never decided and Trump could still win. To guard against this deception, many outlets searched for intricate conspiracy theories to present the lie that there was widespread election fraud - often with the help of Trump advisors as guests. Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, appeared on several Fox shows after the vote to propose conspiracies over Dominion and Smartmatic.
Even ahead of the election, Trump and his far-right media allies were preparing audiences for their claims of election fraud involving voting machines. In late October, Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade falsely suggested that viewers should be concerned about “voting machines owned by George Soros”. These falsehoods about voting systems particularly resonated with the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy movement, which relied on the misinformation to prove Trump's victory.
Smartmatic had previously condemned Trump and the far right media's promotion of conspiracy theories about the company. General manager Antonio Mugica alleged that the falsehoods undermined confidence in electronic voting at international level and damaged the company financially. Last week, Smartmatic's general counsel issued a 20-page letter to Fox News and other outlets requesting that they withdraw their statements about the company.
One outlet that has reportedly received a letter from Smartmatic but has not yet issued a public retraction or public clarification is One America News Network, a far-right and sycophantically pro-Trump network that has similar reports to Newsmax and Fox News Conspiracies broadcast about it electronic voting.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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