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Rachel Maddow: Russian Propaganda Claim Was ‘Hyperbolic Turn of Phrase’

Rachel Maddow is asking a San Diego court to throw out a defamation suit filed by a conservative news channel, arguing that she was speaking hyperbolically when she referred to the network as “paid Russian propaganda.”

Herring Networks, the parent company of One America News Network, sued Maddow and Comcast last month, arguing that Maddow had defamed the pro-Trump channel in a segment in July. In the segment, Maddow referred to a Daily Beast article about Kristian Rouz, a One America staffer who also freelanced for Sputnik News.

“In this case, the most obsequiously pro-Trump right wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda,” Maddow said.

In a motion to strike the lawsuit filed on Monday, attorney Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. argues that Maddow was giving an opinion based on undisputed facts, and therefore cannot be sued for defamation.

“Plaintiff utterly ignores the context of Ms. Maddow’s comment, which is nothing more than a vivid, hyperbolic turn of phrase sandwiched between precise factual recitations that indisputably and accurately state the facts from The Daily Beast article,” Boutrous wrote.

In making the statement, Boutrous wrote, Maddow “was expressing her opinion and astonishment that OAN has a paid staffer who also works for a Russian organization known for distributing pro-Kremlin propaganda.”

Boutrous is asking Judge Cynthia Bashant to strike the suit under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, which protects speech on matters of public concern. A hearing is set for Dec. 16.

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