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Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Smartmatic filed separate defamation lawsuits against Newsmax and One America News Network Wednesday, accusing the conservative networks of knowingly peddling disinformation about its voting technology during the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: The voting company is already suing Fox News and Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell. The latest suit makes similar allegations to the ones filed earlier this year — that the networks embarked on a "disinformation campaign" that harmed Smartmatic's business.

Details: Smartmatic said in a statement Wednesday that the company is "charging that the defendants knowingly and deliberately disseminated a continuous stream of falsehoods that harmed Smartmatic and negatively impacted the company’s business."

  • It accused both Newsmax and OANN in the suits of "falsely" stating that Smartmatic "rigged" the presidential election for President Biden in key swing states, a conspiracy theory repeated by some Trump supporters.
  • That's despite Los Angeles County being the only place in the U.S. where Smartmatic provided its services during the 2020 election.

What they're saying: Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica said in a statement that the company took legal action because the damage to the firm "from this parallel universe of lies and disinformation has reverberated across the United States and in dozens of countries around the world."

  • J. Erik Connolly, an attorney for Smartmatic, said in a statement: "Despite claims to provide viewers with honest, unbiased reporting, these outlets victimized Smartmatic by spreading false information about the company following last year's election, all in their efforts to increase viewership and revenue."

The other side: "While Newsmax has yet to receive or review the Smartmatic filing, Newsmax reported accurately on allegations made by well-known public figures," a spokesperson for the outlet said in an emailed statement.

  • These included the former president, "his advisors and members of Congress, as well as reporting on Smartmatic's claims in its defense."
  • "Smartmatic's action against Newsmax today is a clear attempt to squelch the rights of a free press," the spokesperson added.

What to watch: Fox News has filed a motion to dismiss the $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit that Smartmatic brought against the network, citing First Amendment protections and public interest in the election claims by Trump and his allies.

  • Newsmax and OANN have been trying to lure investors to take on the hugely profitable Fox News, but they're "poorly positioned to absorb significant financial penalties" from a lawsuit, the New York Times notes.
  • OANN did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper

Two lawyers who challenged 2020 election ordered to pay Dominion, Facebook

Photo: David Jennings/Digital First Media/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images

A federal judge in Colorado on Monday ordered two lawyers who brought an unsuccessful lawsuit challenging the 2020 election results to pay more than $186,000 to cover the legal fees of the groups they sued, including Facebook (now Meta) and Dominion Voting Systems.

Driving the news: Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter said the lawsuit "has been used to manipulate gullible members of the public and foment public unrest." He added that the two lawyers, Gary Fielder and Ernest John Walker, "should have known better" and they "need to take responsibility for their misconduct."

1 hour ago - World

Scoop: Iran preparing to enrich weapons-grade uranium, Israel warns U.S.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference. Photo: Presidency of Iran handout via Getty

Israel has shared intelligence over the past two weeks with the U.S. and several European allies suggesting that Iran is taking technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to 90% purity — the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon, two U.S. sources briefed on the issue tell me.

Why it matters: Enriching to 90% would bring Iran closer than ever to the nuclear threshold. The Israeli warnings come as nuclear talks resume in Vienna, with Iran returning to the negotiating table on Monday after a five-month hiatus.

Biden: Fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Monday said that the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic."

Driving the news: Biden said later this week the administration will be releasing a strategy on how "we're going to fight COVID this winter. Not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."