May 10, 2021 - Economy

Ex-Obama speechwriter confronts Newsmax host over false election claims

Former Obama speechwriter David Litt confronted Newsmax host Rob Finnerty during an interview — meant to be about Elon Musk's "SNL" appearance — over the network's promotion of baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, prompting Finnerty to end the segment early.

Why it matters: Facing the threat of a defamation lawsuit, Newsmax apologized to a Dominion Voting Systems employee earlier this month for airing false allegations that he manipulated votes in order to rig the election for President Biden.

  • Newsmax was one of several conservative media networks, personalities and Trump allies targeted in lawsuits by Dominion and Smartmatic, another voting-machine company that became the victim of false claims about a vast election-rigging conspiracy.
  • Trump allies Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Mike Lindell are among those currently facing multibillion-dollar defamation lawsuits for their baseless election claims.

The exchange:

FINNERTY: "What'd you think of Elon Musk's performance? This is the first time since 2015 we've had a non-athlete, non-entertainer on the show. The last person to do that, and do well with great ratings: our former President Donald Trump."
LITT: "Well Rob, that's a great question. What happened on SNL this weekend was that people made stuff up, then said it on television like it's true. And that actually happens pretty frequently on American TV. For example, in 2020, Dominion Voting Systems sued Newsmax over its false claims about election fraud. Newsmax was lying to its own viewers and Newsmax had to settle that lawsuit. Actually, I just need to check in — are you still telling that lie or are you telling new lies?"
FINNERTY: "Wait, I'm sorry David, do you want to talk about something completely non-related and try to catch me on a Monday morning totally off-topic, or do you want to talk about Elon Musk?
LITT: "Well I can see why you don't want to talk about Dominion Voting Systems because if you do, Newsmax could get sued and lose billions of dollars because these are lies."
Go deeper