Newsmax apologizes to Dominion security chief who sued network for defamation

He got more than just an apology from them. According to NPR there was a financial settlement too, although neither side is offering details on numbers.

I hope he’s set for life. He’s been in hiding for months and his career is ruined. They can’t pay him enough to make amends for what’s been done to him.

Newsmax would like to clarify its coverage of Dr. [Eric] Coomer and note that while Newsmax initially covered claims by President Trump’s lawyers, supporters and others that Dr. Coomer played a role in manipulating Dominion voting machines, Dominion voting software, and the final vote counts in the 2020 presidential election, Newsmax subsequently found no evidence that such allegations were true. Many of the states whose results were contested by the Trump campaign after the November 2020 election have conducted extensive recounts and audits, and each of these states certified the results as legal and final.

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. 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.

On behalf of Newsmax, we would like to apologize for any harm that our reporting of the allegations against Dr. Coomer may have caused to Dr. Coomer and his family. For more on this, please go to our website at Newsmax.com, and read “Facts About Dominion, Smartmatic You Should Know.”

Apparently that same apology either has been or will be read on the air by Newsmax but I can’t find video of it this afternoon. Coomer, the director of security at Dominion, landed on populist media’s radar last fall when an activist in Colorado claimed that he infiltrated a conference call with members of Antifa and heard an “Eric from Dominion” say that he was going to rig the vote for Biden. “Don’t worry about the election. Trump is not going to win. I made effing sure of that. Ha ha,” Eric supposedly said, no doubt twisting his Snidely Whiplash mustache as he did so.

That lone activist’s allegation went viral among MAGA fans who were desperate to believe that Trump could only have lost via chicanery and they concluded that “Eric” must be Eric Coomer. By late December Coomer’s life had been turned upside down:

“I actually am in fear for my safety,” Coomer said recently, speaking by video chat from a secret location. “I’m in fear for my family’s safety. These are real, tangible things coming out of these baseless accusations.”

In addition to his own information, he said the personal addresses of everyone from his parents and siblings to his ex-girlfriends have been posted online. Some have also received threatening letters.

“I’ve been threatened more times than I could even count. Whether it’s the standard online trolls, voicemails that are left almost on a daily basis, being called a traitor to this country. I can’t even begin to describe what effect this has had on my life,” he said…

“Some of the threats that I’ve gotten have made very clear that these actors are in it for the long haul. The wishes are that I forever have to look over my shoulder. And I probably will.”

Recently he said he won’t return to his job at Dominion, and not because he doesn’t want to. It’s just not safe. “I will never work in elections. That’s not my choice,” he told Yahoo News. “[S]omething that I was so good at, I will never be able to do again.”

Interestingly, as far as I can tell, Dominion itself hasn’t sued Newsmax (yet). They filed suit against Fox News for a whopping $1.6 billion but there’s no litigation pending against Fox’s far-right competitor. I wonder if that’s because Newsmax has been unusually willing to eat sh*t on the air about its earlier bogus election claims. Back in December they aired a “clarification” of some of their coverage of Dominion and Smartmatic. Subsequently more than one Newsmax host jumped in during interviews with Mike Lindell to cut Lindell off before he could accuse Dominion of election fraud. Maybe Newsmax has done enough to try to walk back its “stop the steal” smears of Dominion that the company figures it probably won’t prevail at trial at this point.

Or maybe they quietly settled with Dominion before the company even filed a complaint.

The other interesting thing about Newsmax quickly settling with Coomer is that it wasn’t the only defendant in his defamation suit. Coomer is suing, among others, the Trump campaign, Rudy Giuliani, and Sidney Powell. The other defendants may be holding out in the hope that the court will deem Coomer a “public figure” for purposes of defamation law rather than a private one, which would strengthen their defense. To win a defamation suit, a private figure has to show merely that the defendant was negligent in publicizing false information that damaged his reputation. A public figure, on the other hand, has to show that the defendant published the falsehood with actual malice, i.e. that they knew it was false or had reckless disregard for its truth or falsity. The remaining defendants apparently aren’t ready to settle with Coomer yet so why was Newsmax?

Possibly Newsmax owner Chris Ruddy has been advised by his lawyers that they’re confident Coomer will be deemed a private figure. Or, more ominously, that they believe the allegations against Coomer are so weak factually that publishing them amounted to actual malice, making it irrelevant whether Coomer is a private figure or not. Ruddy’s strategy with respect to legal trouble over “stop the steal” litigation seems to be to have Newsmax grovel as needed in order to mitigate potential liability and move on from this fiasco. Whereas Fox News, whose pockets are much deeper, can afford to fight on and risk a blockbuster judgment against it at trial if Dominion’s suit proceeds that far.

Either way, the genie is out of the bottle. According to a new CNN poll, fully 70 percent of Republicans believe Biden didn’t get enough votes to win the presidency.

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