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Conservative media outlet walks back election conspiracy theory

Pro-Trump media outlets don't generally correct their bogus reports on the 2020 election. There are, however, exceptions.


As a rule, conservative media outlets that have aired conspiratorial segments about the 2020 presidential election haven’t expressed regrets. Viewers, readers, and listeners have been misled into believing all sorts of nonsense, but the media organizations responsible for promoting the ideas aren’t in the habit of setting the record straight.

There are, however, occasional exceptions.

A year ago this week, for example, a far-right outlet called Newsmax issued a public apology to one of Dominion Voting Systems’ top employees after the network aired bogus claims about the company and the 2020 election.

Today, as The Daily Beast reported, it happened again.

The right-wing cable network One America News Network on Monday ran a pre-recorded 30-second segment acknowledging that there was “no widespread voter fraud” by Georgia election workers in the 2020 presidential election. The segment appears to be part of a recent settlement relating to a defamation lawsuit brought against the network by two such workers.

For those who may need a refresher as to how we arrived at this point, let’s circle back to our earlier coverage.

It was shortly after Election Day 2020 when the nightmare began for a clerical worker in a county election office in Georgia and her mother. Donald Trump and some of his rabid followers decided that Shaye Moss and mother, Ruby Freeman, who’d taken a temp job helping count 2020 ballots, were directly and personally responsible for including fake ballots in Georgia’s election tally.

In fact, unhinged Republicans claimed to have proof in the form of a video in which Moss and Freeman could be seen doing their jobs. What conspiracy theorists said were “suitcases” of bogus ballots were really just standard boxes used locally to transport actual ballots.

The video — which showed nothing nefarious or untoward — nevertheless made the rounds in conservative media and in far-right circles, with Republican conspiracy theorists insisting that the images showed election fraud, reality be damned. Trump even put it on screen during one of his post-defeat political rallies. In fact, the former president went after the two Black women, by name, repeatedly, which in turn led Republican activists to threaten the women’s lives and show up at their homes.

Freeman, a retiree who started a small boutique business selling fashion accessories, was forced to flee her house, close her business, and move to an undisclosed location on the advice of the FBI for her own safety. Her daughter dramatically changed her appearance so people wouldn’t recognize her and started avoided going out in public.

It was at that point that they took their concerns to the courts, filing lawsuits against those who helped promote the lie.

Reuters reported last month that Freeman and Moss had reached an out-of-court settlement with OAN, which set the stage for this morning’s on-air message. An anchor told viewers the network was providing an “updated report” out of Georgia, which said:

“Georgia officials have concluded that there was no widespread voter fraud by election workers who counted ballots at the State Farm Arena in November 2020. The results of this investigation indicate that Ruby Freeman and Wandrea ‘Shaye’ Moss did not engage in ballot fraud or criminal misconduct while working at State Farm Arena on election night. A legal matter with this network and the two election workers has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties through a fair and reasonable settlement.”

Freeman and Moss have also sued Rudy Giuliani. That litigation is ongoing. Watch this space.