Fulton County election worker Ruby Freeman, one of the plaintiffs in OAN suit, processes ballots in Atlanta, Georgia, on Nov. 4, 2020.
Fulton County election worker Ruby Freeman, one of the plaintiffs in OAN suit, processes ballots in Atlanta, Georgia, on Nov. 4, 2020. Photo by Brandon Bell via Reuters

A year ago, Georgia election worker Ruby Freeman got Christmas cards with messages like “Ruby please report to the FBI and tell them you committed voter fraud. If not you will be sorry” and “You deserve to go to jail, you worthless piece of shit whore.”

Her daughter, election worker Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, gained 50 pounds but has avoided the grocery store, opting to have food delivered.

Georgia poll workers complaint against Herring Networks and OAN figures (PDF)

Those are among the allegations contained in an 80-page defamation lawsuit filed Thursday against the owners of San Diego-based One America News Network.

Moss, says the suit that also targets former Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, “feels trapped by the unshakable fear that there are unknown people after her who want her dead.”

Harassment Freeman received at her home after OAN repeatedly aired debunked claims of election fraud led the FBI to conclude that she would not be safe in her home beginning Jan. 6, 2021, the date of the Capitol insurrection.

She fled her home and did not return for two months, the suit says.

Why the attacks on mother and daughter?

The suit, filed by a 10-member legal team, said OAN and others advanced a predetermined fictitious storyline in the face of the facts because it was financially advantageous.

“They were motivated to publish lies about Plaintiffs because lying about the election results was more profitable than reporting the truth,” says the suit filed in District of Columbia federal court.

Because the Herrings, Giuliani and several reporters inflicted, “and continue to inflict, severe and ongoing emotional and economic damage” on the pair, the suit calls for a jury trial and seeks unspecified monetary damages.

The lawsuit targets San Diego-based Herring Networks, which owns and operates One America News Network, as well as the channel’s chief executive Robert Herring, president Charles Herring and reporter Chanel Rion.

Giuliani has frequently appeared on OAN’s programs and has been one of the biggest promoters of Trump’s false claims that voter fraud cost him the 2020 election.

In a brief interview, OAN chief executive Robert Herring Sr. told Reuters he was not concerned about the lawsuit and that his network had done nothing wrong.

June 21, 2021, episode of OAN’s “The Real Story with Natalie Harp” was among many cited as containing lies about the plaintiffs.

“I know all about it and I’m laughing,” he said of the lawsuit. “I’m laughing about the four or five others who are suing me. Eventually, it will turn on them and go the other way.”

(Herring Networks faces suits by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, with potential damages exceeding $3 billion.)

Charles Herring, Rion and Giuliani did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The suit says OAN accused Freeman and Moss of committing election fraud by, among other things:

  • Engaging in a criminal conspiracy, along with others, to illegally exclude observers during the counting of ballots “under false pretenses” so that they could engage in election fraud.
  • Criminally or fraudulently introducing “suitcases” of illegal ballots into the ballot-counting process.
  • Criminally or fraudulently counting the same ballots multiple times in order to swing the results of the election.
  • Surreptitiously passing around flash drives that were not supposed to be placed in Dominion voting machines.
  • And committing other crimes, including participating in something that amounted to the “crime of the century.”

The defamation lawsuit is the second filed this month by Moss and Freeman, who also sued the Gateway Pundit, alleging the far-right website’s unfounded reports incited months of death threats and harassment against them.

The Gateway Pundit did not immediately respond to an email sent through its website seeking comment.

In addition to removing the reports about Freeman and Moss from OAN’s websites and other media channels, the lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

The OAN and Gateway Pundit lawsuits both revolve around false allegations first raised by a volunteer Trump campaign attorney at a Dec. 3 hearing of Georgia state legislators. Freeman and Moss worked in heavily Democratic Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, where a strong showing by Biden helped give the Democrat a narrow Georgia victory.

Trump, a Republican, and his surrogates used surveillance video of the vote count at State Farm Arena to falsely accuse Freeman and Moss of processing “suitcases” full of fake ballots for Biden late at night on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020, after most poll workers and election observers left.

According to the complaint, Giuliani then “amplified the video by posting about it on social media,” while “OAN, its hosts, and its staff” took Giuliani’s assertions and “published them to millions of its viewers and readers.”

State officials including Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger quickly and forcefully denied the allegations, explaining that the “suitcases” were standard ballot containers and the votes were properly counted under the watch of an independent monitor and a state investigator.

Giuliani has falsely claimed that the video footage showed the two women engaging in “surreptitious illegal activity” and acting suspiciously, like drug dealers “passing out dope.”

In early January, Trump himself singled out Freeman, by name, 18 times in a telephone call in which he pressed Georgia officials to alter the state’s results. He described Freeman as a “known political operative” who “stuffed the ballot boxes.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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