Newsmax apologizes to Dominion employee for falsely alleging manipulation
The conservative news network Newsmax has apologized to an employee of Dominion Voting Systems for baselessly alleging he had rigged the company's voting machines and vote counts against former president Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
In a statement Friday, Newsmax said it wanted to "clarify" its coverage of Eric Coomer, the director of product strategy and security at Dominion, who filed a defamation lawsuit against the right-wing network in December. After the election, conspiracy theories about Coomer's supposed role in manipulating the vote proliferated on right-wing sites, including Newsmax. Coomer said he had been forced into hiding after receiving death threats from Trump supporters, who believed Trump's false assertion that the election had been stolen from him and that Coomer had played a role.
On Friday, Newsmax said there was no evidence such allegations were true.
"There are several facts that our viewers should be aware of," Newsmax's statement read. "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."
Newsmax also noted that "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." The statement ended with an apology for any harm caused to Coomer and his family.
In exchange, Coomer has dropped Newsmax from his defamation lawsuit, the Associated Press reported. Representatives for Coomer did not respond immediately Saturday to requests for comment. NPR and Forbes reported that Coomer had reached a settlement with Newsmax, but his attorneys did not disclose the details.
"Newsmax doesn't comment on litigation matters. Our statement on the website is consistent with our previous statements that we have not seen any evidence of software manipulation in the 2020 election," Newsmax spokesman Brian Peterson said when asked for details of a settlement.
In his lawsuit, Coomer alleged that Newsmax, along with other right-wing news outlets and public figures, had "elevated Dr. Coomer into the national spotlight, invaded his privacy, threatened his security, and fundamentally defamed his reputation across this country." Other defendants include the Trump campaign, former Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, conservative podcast host Joseph Oltmann, conservative political commentator Michelle Malkin and the right-wing One America News network.
The suit argued that the defendants in the case had been "integral" to spreading false claims about Coomer, which quickly put his and his family's safety in jeopardy.
"As intended, Defendants' fabrication quickly spread throughout various media sources. Within days, the hashtags #EricCoomer, #ExposeEricCoomer, and #ArrestEricCoomer were trending on social media," the complaint stated. "The President began publishing numerous false statements to his millions of followers alleging Dominion interfered with the election; the President's son and campaign surrogate, Eric Trump, tweeted a photo of Dr. Coomer alongside this false claim; and the President's Campaign lawyers identified Dr. Coomer in a nationally televised press conference where they described him as a 'vicious, vicious man' who 'is close to Antifa'..."
Dominion, whose voting machines have been at the center of some of the wildest election-related conspiracy theories, has filed several lawsuits against Trump's lawyers and right-wing media outlets, as well as other allies like MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. In late March, Dominion sued Fox News $1.6 billion over the network's hosts and guests repeatedly making false claims about fraud in the 2020 election.
When threatened with legal action, a number of Trump's media allies have apologized for perpetuating the former president's false claims of voter fraud. The conservative magazine American Thinker retracted several pieces in January that had falsely accused the company of conspiring to steal the election from Trump. Thomas Lifson, the magazine's editor and publisher, acknowledged those pieces had relied on "discredited sources who have peddled debunked theories" that had "no basis in fact."
"Industry experts and public officials alike have confirmed that Dominion conducted itself appropriately and that there is simply no evidence to support these claims," Lifson said in a statement then. "It was wrong for us to publish these false statements. We apologize to Dominion for all of the harm this caused them and their employees. We also apologize to our readers for abandoning 9 journalistic principles and misrepresenting Dominion's track record and its limited role in tabulating votes for the November 2020 election. We regret this grave error."
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