On or about February 5, 2021, right-wing news organization OAN was ordered to pay Defendants Rachel Maddow and MSNBC approximately $250,000 in attorney’s fees. In this case, OAN filed a defamation claim against Rachel Maddow and MSNBC after the news anchor stated on air that OAN “literally is paid Russian propaganda.” In response, the Defendants filed a motion to throw out the case in what is commonly referred to as an Anti-SLAPP motion.
The federal judge found that the Defendants were exercising their freedom of speech rights in relation to a public issue and that the OAN would fail to succeed in their defamation claim because OAN had actually employed an on-air reporter who also was being paid by a Russian-financed news organization. Since Maddow was telling the truth, OAN would be unable to prevail on their defamation claim. Thus, the judge granted the Defendants’ Anti-SLAPP motion.
When a defendant wins an Anti-SLAPP motion, the defendant is entitled to their attorney’s fees. In this case, Maddow/MSNBC asked for $347,000, and the Plaintiffs sought to lower that amount substantially. Ultimately, the judge decided to take the middle ground and award almost $250,000 in attorney’s fees.
OAN is represented by Louis R. Miller and Amnon Z. Siegel of Miller Barondess LLP.
Maddow and MSNBC are represented by Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., Theane Evangelis, Nathaniel L. Bach, Marissa B. Moshell and Scott A. Edelman of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
The case is Herring Networks Inc. v. Rachel Maddow et al., case number 3:19-cv-01713, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
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