If you are a lawyer representing, say, a voting machine manufacturer suing the Trump-centric propagandist conspiracy network known as OAN, you probably already have today’s New York Times story on the network printed out, all the interesting bits highlighted. In an examination of OAN’s continued misinformation, disinformation, and genuine frontier gibberish, Times reporter Rachel Abrams drops a few intriguing little tidbits from inside Fort Alwaystrump. The part that will have lawyers feeling peppy is this one:
“In interviews with 18 current and former OAN newsroom employees, 16 said the channel had broadcast reports that they considered misleading, inaccurate or untrue.”
In other words, if the Dominion legal team throws a dart at old and current OAN corporate org charts and subpoenas whoever the dart picks, the odds are 80% or so you’ll have found a witness to testify that OAN broadcasts information even its own employees believe to be “untrue.” And it doesn’t sound like they’d necessary be hostile to testifying, either.
“Mr. Golingan, the producer, said some OAN employees had hoped Dominion would sue the channel. “A lot of people said, ‘This is insane, and maybe if they sue us, we’ll stop putting stories like this out,’” he said.”
You’d think! But no. No, OAN has found it exceedingly difficult to just not broadcast the untrue things they are being sued for. An ex-producer told the Times “more than a dozen” network employees quit after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol spurred by the network’s provably false voter fraud claims, presumably because their own ambitions did not align with goading violent and gullible nitwits into attempting to overthrow the government.
That producer also claimed that “many people” raised concerns about the networks craptacular claims, but “when people speak up about anything, you will get in trouble.”
So what we have here, then, is a pretty clear picture. OAN’s employees knew full well that the network was promoting false claims about voter fraud. The network’s owners and top brass insisted on the falsehoods anyway, either because the top brass are true conspiracy theory believers or, more likely, because their intent was to propagandize and titillate to begin with. Not only does Dominion have an ironclad case that the company’s fictions substantially harmed their future prospects as a voting machine manufacturer, the FBI might want to have a look at the network’s internal emails to see if stoking full-on sedition was also an intended outcome of their coverage.
Given this Times story? It seems more possible than not.