“A federal judge in California has ordered Herring Networks, the parent company of far-right conservative media organization One America News Network (OAN), to pay MSNBC and host Rachel Maddow $250,000 in attorney’s fees stemming from a defamation lawsuit that was dismissed last year.”
In July of 2019, Herring Networks filed a lawsuit against Maddow claiming that she had defamed OAN by reporting that a correspondent for the network was also employed by the Russian state news network Sputnik. Maddow also remarked that OAN “literally is paid Russian propaganda.” which led Herring to file a $10 million defamation lawsuit against her and MSNBC.
The defense used by MSNBC was based on a California law:
“Maddow and MSNBC responded by filing a special motion to strike the case under California’s Anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (Anti-SLAPP) law. Such measures are meant to prevent people and companies from using the courts to stifle constitutionally protected First Amendment speech.”
In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant, noted there was “no set of facts that could support a claim for defamation based on Maddow’s statement.”
As a result of Judge Bashant’s ruling, legal fees were calculated and awarded to the defendants:
“Under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, defendants who prevail on a special motion to toss a defamation case are entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs related to extracting themselves from unsound claims.
“The court calculated that Maddow’s team of high-priced attorneys from the law firm Gibson Dunn—including famed First Amendment attorney Ted Boutrous, Jr.—were entitled to collect on 363.1 hours of work totaling $247,667.50, plus an additional $10,724 for hours billed by paralegals.”
Herring Networks President Charles Herring says the company will appeal the ruling:
“We’re pleased that the fees were reduced by nearly a third by the court. The case is currently under appeal and we’re highly confident that we’ll receive a favorable and just ruling in the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.”
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