Nolte: Rachel Maddow’s Lawyer Responds to OAN Lawsuit with ‘Alex Jones Defense’

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Steven Senne

Rachel Maddow’s lawyer responded to the $10 million lawsuit filed by One America News (OAN) by admitting she doesn’t always mean what she says.

Back in July, Maddow falsely accused OAN of being a paid Russia propaganda outlet.

“In this case, the most obsequiously pro-Trump right-wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda,” The Russia Hoax Queen told her audience.

“Their on-air U.S. politics reporter is paid by the Russian government to produce propaganda for that government,” Maddow said.

Maddow’s smear was based on nothing. She fabricated it out of whole cloth. Prior to being employed by OAN, an OAN staffer had done some freelance work for Sputnik News. She was not even employed by Sputnik, and she didn’t do any work for Sputnik after going to work for OAN.

And from that, Maddow tells the world OAN “really literally is paid Russian propaganda.”

It was an outrageous lie, and now Maddow’s attorney is all but admitting she lies like this all the time. In fact, his defense appears to be an announcement to the world that no one should ever take Maddow seriously.

Well, except for her dwindling audience, the world already knew that.

From the San Diego Times:

Maddow lawyer Theodore J. “Ted” Boutrous Jr. argued that the liberal host was clearly offering up her “own unique expression” of her views to capture what she saw as the “ridiculous” nature of the undisputed facts.

“Her comment, therefore, is a quintessential statement ‘of rhetorical hyperbole, incapable of being proved true or false,’” he said.

There he is, straight up admitting she engages in “rhetorical hyperbole, incapable of being proved true or false.”

Good grief, she’s the primetime star of a NEWS network!

So what we have here is the biggest “star” at NBC News essentially using the same defense as Alex Jones.

After he repeatedly claimed the Sandy Hook school massacre was a hoax, the families sued him and Jones’ initial defense was to claim he cannot be sued because he’s a “performance artist.”

And now Maddow’s attorney has been boxed into the same “really literally” corner: Hey, what Rachel Maddow says isn’t factual; it’s “hyperbole,” her “own unique expression!”

Wow.

Me? If I had Maddow money, I’d apologize to OAN, publicly retract my statement, and settle before admitting I was NBC’s own Alex Jones.

Then again, if I had gotten something that terribly wrong, I would apologize and retract anyway, because that’s what people who care about their credibility do.

In response to Maddow’s absurd defense, OAN offered written analyses from a UC Santa Barbara linguist professor, Stefan Thomas Gries, who argues there is no possible way to interpret what Maddow said as anything other than an expression of “fact.”

“Maddow did not use any typical opinion-markers when she stated that OAN ‘really literally is paid Russian propaganda,’” he said.

Siegel said Maddow is not the sort of person an audience would expect to misuse “literally.”

“She is a graduate of Stanford and Oxford Universities and a Rhodes Scholar,” he said. “In fact, on the show, Maddow regularly uses ‘literally’ in its primary meaning,” as she did in these examples:

  • “Meanwhile, today the Trump administration tried to push through one of the most controversial judicial nominees of Trump’s time in office. They literally nominated him to the job two days ago.”
  • “It’s literally an emergency, a formally declared emergency.”
  • The U.S. military [is] apparently diverting C17 cargo flights to stop at President Trump’s golf course in Scotland, literally to have U.S. airmen stay at his golf resort.”
  • And: “They are literally de-funding the day care center at Andrews Air Force Base.”

Thus Maddow’s use of “literally” is consistent, he said, and “her audience would not have understood her assertion that OAN ‘really literally is paid Russian propaganda’ as metaphorical hyperbole.”

It’s one thing to express an opinion when you are in the business of opinion, I can spend all day describing Maddow as a serial liar, a fabulist, a conspiracy theorist — and even though I have the facts to back all that up, I don’t need them because I’m entitled to my opinion. But if I start spreading lies disguised as facts, if I start to say Rachel Maddow “really literally” is being secretly paid by a group of neo-Nazis, that’s where the line gets crossed, any by any reasonable standard, Maddow crossed it with OAN and now her only defense is…

Hey, I don’t even pretend to tell the truth; I’m a performance artist!

 Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.

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