One America News Network has quietly scrubbed its website of references to election conspiracy theories, which could be an attempt to fend off a lawsuit from the election-technology companies it had targeted in its stories.
For months, the media organization, which is allied with former President Trump, has published stories about Dominion Voting Systems and perpetuated the baseless conspiracy theory that the company rigged the 2020 presidential election for President Joe Biden at the expense of Trump.
But sometime in January, OAN removed stories about Dominion from its website. It has also removed stories about Smartmatic, a rival election-technology company also targeted in the conspiracy theories.
Stories about Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and Lin Wood – the three biggest champions of the unsubstantiated theories – have been removed as well.
A review of the “Dominion Voting Systems” category tag on OAN’s website shows just one article, published on January 4, about a “MAGA victory rally” in Georgia.
But the Wayback Machine, which creates archives of websites, shows more than a dozen stories published with that category tag up until January 14, a week after Dominion filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Powell.
The “Dominion Voting Systems” category tag included now deleted stories based on groundless allegations, such as Powell claiming Dominion had a “vote switch algorithm,” Giuliani claiming the supposed algorithm created a specific margin for Biden’s victory, and an interview with someone claiming a Dominion executive has secret ties to antifa.
The category tag on OAN’s website for Powell, an attorney who became a right-wing celebrity while pushing four failed lawsuits seeking to overturn election results based on conspiracy theories, also shows only one story, which mentions Twitter barring her for spreading election conspiracy theories in the wake of the Capitol riot that left five people dead.
The Wayback Machine’s records showed that the website previously hosted three other articles about Powell, which were also available on the website until January 14.
The Wayback Machine pages for category tags for Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer who has pushed conspiracy theories, and the pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood also showed articles were wiped from OAN’s website.
OAN has also removed at least two stories with the category tag “Smartmatic,” a technology-company rival to Dominion that conspiracy theorists claimed formed the secret link between the 2020 US election results and the regime of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013.
A spokesperson for Dominion said OAN had “not been in contact with us about any articles they have removed.”
Legitimate news organizations normally issue retraction notices or editors’ notes when stories have been removed or significantly corrected.
Those notes are generally designed to demonstrate transparency, attempt to retain the trust of readers, or simply show that the news organization is complying with a court order.
But despite the removals, OAN has not given any public notice of those actions.
The links to the removed articles do not lead to a retraction notice but to a 404 page.
OAN’s purge of articles about Dominion does not appear to be comprehensive.
A simple search for “Dominion” on the website brings up a story headlined “Tech Expert Reveals Ga. Voting Machines Connected To Chinese Vendor.”
The article is based on comments from a person named Jovan Pulitzer, whose claims have been rejected by Georgia’s secretary of state.
The media organization’s YouTube page also appears to show several video segments about Dominion.
OAN has competed with Fox News and Newsmax to capture an audience of Trump fans.
And unlike Fox News and Newsmax, it has steadfastly refused to acknowledge that Biden legitimately won the 2020 election, even as he took office Wednesday.
The media organization has found an audience with Trump himself, who in November tweeted its segment “Dominion-izing the vote,” which featured the OAN host Chanel Rion.
The segment included the QAnon advocate Ron Watkins as a cybersecurity “expert” who said Dominion’s software was vulnerable to hacks that allowed it to switch votes from Trump to Biden.
OAN’s coverage borrowed heavily from Powell’s failed lawsuits.
Watkins, for example, was included as an affiant in Powell’s lawsuits, even though he has no known experience in election security.
In December, Tom Clare, a defamation attorney representing Dominion, sent document-retention letters to dozens of Trump allies, including Powell, Giuliani, the White House counsel’s office, Fox News, and Newsmax.
Clare also sent letters to OAN’s CEO, Robert Herring, and president, Charles Herring, warning of “imminent” litigation.
Clare said the lies had led to death threats against Dominion employees and demanded public retractions and apologies for OAN’s stories.
In response, OAN doubled down on conspiracy theories.
In letters to Dominion obtained by Insider, OAN demanded the election-technology company retain documents related to its links to Venezuela, George Soros, Smartmatic, and “the Fire that destroyed thousands of voting machines in Caracas, Venezuela” in March – all subjects Dominion says it has no links to.
Dominion has since gone on the offensive, filing the $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Powell on January 8.
“These false allegations have caused catastrophic damage to this company. They have branded Dominion, a voting company, as perpetrating a massive fraud,” Clare said at a Zoom press conference at the time. “Those allegations triggered a media firestorm that promoted those same false claims to a global audience.”
Dominion CEO John Poulos also said he was weighing whether to sue Trump, who hasn’t responded to Dominion’s litigation threats.
Trump’s YouTube page still hosts the full 30-minute “Dominion-izing the vote” video, even though it no longer appears on OAN’s YouTube page or website.