And which outlet was among the most aggressive in spreading those violence-provoking, coup-justifying lies targeting anyone they wanted to? Pro-Trump conspiracy network OAN, a thoroughly fascist AT&T-backed network devoted to authoritarian-backing conspiracy theories featuring a battalion of talking heads that themselves range from merely amoral to conspicuously delusional.
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OAN is now once again walking back one of those violence-provoking hoaxes, but only after another lawsuit threatened its bank accounts. And it's much too late to do anybody a damn bit of good.
OAN broadcast a 30-second statement on Monday in which it admitted that two Georgia election workers who it had previously targeted by name, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, "did not engage in ballot fraud or criminal misconduct." It also proclaimed that OAN had settled a "legal matter" with Freeman and Moss, referring to the lawsuit filed against the network by Freeman and Moss for promoting a truly asinine claim by "Gateway Pundit" conspiracy theorist Jim Hoft declaring that the two plotted to count "illegal" ballots they had smuggled in from "a suitcase stashed under a table."
It was an absolutely crackpot claim—it had literally no basis whatsoever. But from Hoft, it made it to OAN, and from OAN it made it into the delusional Donald Trump's ears, and Trump himself both promoted the hoax and insisted Freeman, by name, was "a professional vote scammer" in his infamous call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger demanding Georgia's presidential vote counts be altered.
It was a huge deal, it played a significant role in Donald Trump convincing himself to attempt a coup rather than abide a loss his narcissistic and delusional brain could not process, and it resulted in Freeman having to flee her home after several instances in which conspiracy believers attempted to force their way into her home to "make a citizen's arrest." And it was a hoax from the very beginning.
Nonetheless, OAN produced "dozens" of stories accusing Freeman and Moss of rigging Georgia's election, all of them false, as the network attempted to stoke a passion for nullifying this nation's democracy and reappointing Donald Trump, a delusional incompetent, as the nation's leader no matter what the vote counts might have been. It was absolutely a fascist scheme, a scheme in which it invented enemies, named and targeted them, and declared that because of these enemies and their secret crimes the rule of law must be abandoned so that Dear Leader and his movement can set things right.
Yeah, they got their asses sued off for it, and now here comes the settlement. Unfortunately, we don't know how much the two victims of their fascist hoax were able to squeeze out of these little Juice Box Hitlers, but it had better be enough that neither of them ever need to work another day in their lives. If a fake news network convinces a president of the United States and his uncountably many minions that you, personally, are the reason the nation has to topple democracy and install themselves as national leaders, it seems to me that the penalty the "network" should face ought to be a considerably higher sum than the grand total of everything the "network" has ever had invested into it.
Freeman? Moss? Please tell us you were able to bleed these violence-provoking jackasses for, at the least, billionaire's yacht money.
OAN may or may not come out of all these lawsuits with a penny to their name—because America has some extremely wealthy people backing its shift to fascism, however, it is likely that its backers see settlements like this one an acceptable price to be able to keep promoting new hoaxes attacking new targets. But any settlement that results in anything less than the indentured servitude of the network's talking heads, giving them new forced positions standing watch outside their targets' front doors so that they themselves can face the wrath of the frothing twits they so eagerly incited, is still a damn shame.
American law simply doesn't have a proper punishment for "incited a violent coup for personal political advantage." And that's a shame, because I think we can all think of some pretty good punishment regimens for suit-wearing fascists who use the trappings of "news" to goad such things.
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