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The aftershocks of Dominion Voting Systems’ lawsuit against Fox News, which culminated in a colossal settlement, are now reverberating through Newsmax. As part of Smartmatic’s defamation suit against Newsmax, multiple employees of the cable network are being subpoenaed for their personal and work-related communications.
Smartmatic, a voting technology company, alleges that Newsmax intentionally circulated erroneous information regarding Smartmatic’s involvement in the 2020 presidential election. The lawsuit posits that Newsmax had falsely conveyed through various platforms that Smartmatic was “part of a nefarious conspiracy to rig the election.”
J. Erik Connolly, Smartmatic’s counsel, indicated that the firm is diligently seeking discovery from current and former Newsmax employees who allegedly played a role in spreading alleged misinformation. Connolly, who holds the position of managing chair of the litigation practice group at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan, & Aronoff, LLC, stated, “Smartmatic intends to pursue discovery from the current and former Newsmax employees who participated in the egregious disinformation campaign against the company.”
Newsmax had initially countered with a lawsuit of its own, dismissing Smartmatic’s case as an intimidation tactic. However, a breakthrough for Smartmatic came in February 2023 when the court allowed its lawsuit to advance.
In what some employees see as an intrusion into their privacy, Newsmax has issued a mandate that staffers must submit “mirror images of their personal cell phones, personal email, and iCloud” in compliance with the subpoenas served by Smartmatic. The distressed employees, who sought anonymity for fear of reprisals, disclosed to Rolling Stone that their jobs were threatened by the company for non-compliance.
With the Dominion precedent looming over them, Newsmax staffers are apprehensive that their private communications may inadvertently be thrust into the limelight. However, legal experts suggest that employees may have little choice but to abide by the subpoena. Jasmine Rand, an attorney specializing in employment-discrimination law, opined that unless employees challenge the underlying subpoena, there is minimal recourse available to them.
As the legal battle between Smartmatic and Newsmax unfolds, it signifies an ongoing effort to hold accountable entities and individuals who peddled unfounded claims regarding the 2020 elections. Newsmax now finds itself navigating choppy waters, with its employees caught in the legal crosshairs.