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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

Updated May 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Key takeaways from Elon Musk's "Saturday Night Live" appearance

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Berlin, Germany, last December. Photo: Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images

Elon Musk marked his "Saturday Night Live" hosting debut by making a series of self-deprecating jokes and addressing controversy he's attracted over the years over his behavior and Twitter posts.

What he's saying: "To anyone I've offended, I just want to say, I reinvented electric cars and I'm sending people to Mars in a rocket ship," the SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO said. "Did you think I was also going to be a chill, normal dude?"

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
3 hours ago - Health

FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adults

Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Members of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine expert panel on Friday unanimously endorsed a booster shot for adult recipients of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at least two months after the initial dose.

Why it matters: The advisory committee raised concerns about a dearth of data to support their decision but ultimately decided to support an additional shot for those over 18.

Capitol Police officer indicted for obstructing Jan. 6 investigation

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

A U.S. Capitol Police officer has been indicted on obstruction of justice charges for allegedly helping hide evidence of a participant's involvement in the Jan. 6 riot.

Driving the news: Officer Michael A. Riley, 50, is accused of telling the unidentified participant, referred to as "Person 1," in the Jan. 6 riot to delete posts from Facebook, which showed them in the Capitol during the attack.