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OAN can’t dodge Smartmatic’s DC lawsuit over election conspiracy theories just because its headquarters is in California, judge rules

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is interviewed by the One America News Network during former U.S. president Donald Trump’s rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio, U.S., June 26, 2021.

Gaelen Morse/Reuters

  • Smartmatic sued One America News in Washington, DC, alleging defamation through election conspiracy theories.
  • OAN argued the lawsuit should be tossed because it’s based in California, not DC.
  • A DC federal judge gave the case a green light and said OAN doesn’t understand jurisdictional laws.

A federal judge on Tuesday gave a green light to Smartmatic’s defamation lawsuit against One America News, a right-wing media organization it alleges pushed conspiracy theories about the election technology company’s role in the 2020 presidential election.

Smartmatic filed the lawsuit in Washington, DC, in November, arguing OAN damaged the company’s reputation. Smartmatic and Dominion, a rival election technology company, have both been subject to conspiracy theories alleging they rigged the election against then-President Donald Trump and in favor of now-President Joe Biden.

Herring Networks, which operates OAN, asked US District Judge Carl J. Nichols to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing he didn’t have jurisdiction over the case because the company is headquartered in California.

In a terse, 11-page opinion, Nichols said that isn’t how the law works. OAN operates a studio in Washington, DC, and broadcasts throughout the district, giving the DC court jurisdiction, Nichols wrote.

“Indeed, but for OAN leasing television production studio and office space, advertising its programming, and promoting its network with guests, OAN’s allegedly false and defamatory statements would not have made it on the airwaves,” Nichols wrote.

According to Smartmatic’s lawsuit, OAN defamed the election technology company through its own hosts pushing election conspiracy theories, by avoiding factual information about the election, and airing “docu-movies” from MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who’s pushed a separate set of conspiracy theories about Smartmatic and the rival election technology company Dominion Voting Systems, baselessly claiming their machines were hacked by Chinese authorities.

In reality, Smartmatic operated in only one county for the 2020 election, and there is no evidence that it nor Dominion manipulated any voting results.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, CISA, released a statement on November 12, 2020, saying that the election was the most secure in American history.

Representatives for Herring Networks didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Smartmatic’s lawsuit against OAN is only one among a slew of defamation cases it and Dominion have filed against media organizations and people over election conspiracy theories.

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