A right-wing TV network is suing Rachel Maddow and NBCUniversal for more than $10 million, claiming the news anchor defamed the outlet when she called it “paid Russian propaganda.”
Maddow made the statement about One America News during the July 22 broadcast of her top-rated MSNBC show.
“The most obsequiously pro-Trump right-wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda,” Maddow said.
The liberal commentator made the statement while citing a Daily Beast article that said an OAN staffer also worked for Sputnik News, which reportedly is backed by the Kremlin.
“Maddow’s statement is utterly and completely false,” OAN’s lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in San Diego argues.
“OAN is wholly owned and financed by the Herrings, an American family. OAN has never been paid or received a penny from Russia or the Russian government,” it states.
A spokeswoman for MSNBC and “The Rachel Maddow Show” did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily News.
In its complaint, OAN claims Maddow’s comment was an act of retaliation because its president accused her parent company Comcast of censorship.
“Comcast has refused to carry OAN as part of its cable programming because OAN counters the liberal politics of Comcast’s own news channel, MSNBC,” the lawsuit claims.
According to the complaint, OAN’s president objected to Comcast’s “anti-competitive” tactics in a July email to a Comcast executive.
“A week later, MSNBC’s most popular show — The Rachel Maddow Show — opened with a hit piece on OAN,” the lawsuit claims.
It states that Kristian Rouz, the reporter who worked as a freelancer for Sputnik News, is not a staff employee and that his work for OAN had no connection to the Russian outlet.
“Sputnik News is affiliated with the Russian government, but Rouz chose the topics and viewpoints of the articles he wrote for Sputnik News,” the lawsuit says.
In a statement included in the filings, Rouz said that he wrote more than a thousand articles for Sputnik, but they were based on sound journalism.
“I have never written propaganda, disinformation or unverified information,” he claimed.
“I could write whenever I want, as many articles I want, but not exceeding 25 articles per month,” he wrote, adding that he was paid $40 per article.
“I wrote these articles to make ends meet and survive as I had no family or friends in the U.S.,” the Ukraine-born writer said. “I was unemployed in this country for roughly two years.”
The defamation lawsuit names Maddow, Comcast, MSNBC and NBCUniversal Media as defendants.