Rachel Maddow, along with her MSNBC colleagues Nicolle Wallace and Chris Hayes, is involved in a significant legal controversy that has put NBCUniversal at risk of a $30 million lawsuit. A federal judge has found that these prominent anchors made “verifiably false” statements about Dr. Mahendra Amin, who they referred to as the “Uterus Collector.”

The lawsuit involving the MSNBC anchors and Amin is proceeding to trial, centering on claims made during broadcasts about Amin allegedly performing unnecessary hysterectomies on women detained at an immigration facility during the Trump administration. These allegations initially surfaced from a whistleblower complaint in 2020, a period marked by intense scrutiny of the administration’s immigration policies.

The lawsuit centers around a whistleblower complaint made by Dawn Wooten, a nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia. Wooten alleged that numerous female detainees were subjected to hysterectomies without proper medical justification or informed consent. These serious allegations quickly captured public attention, leading to extensive media coverage and strong political reactions.

MSNBC, through its influential programs hosted by Maddow, Wallace, and Hayes, played a significant role in publicizing the allegations against Amin. These broadcasts portrayed Amin as routinely performing unnecessary hysterectomies on detained immigrant women, drawing comparisons to severe human rights abuses seen in Nazi Germany or during the Jim Crow era in the American South. Hayes notably remarked on the story’s viral nature, emphasizing its evocation of historical atrocities.

Amin strongly refuted the allegations against him and initiated a $30 million defamation lawsuit against NBCUniversal. In his legal challenge, the physician argues that the network, through the broadcasts by the three hosts, significantly harmed his reputation and professional life. The lawsuit asserts that the accusations made on air were not only incorrect but were also disseminated with reckless disregard for their veracity, highlighting a serious concern over the handling and verification of the information broadcasted.

U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood decisively ruled against NBCUniversal’s motion for summary judgment, clearing the way for the case to proceed to trial. The judge emphasized the genuine disputes of material fact regarding whether NBC acted with actual malice, a critical element in defamation cases involving public figures. “Multiple statements are verifiably false. The undisputed evidence has established that: (1) there were no mass hysterectomies or high numbers of hysterectomies at the facility,” the court document stated.

The court documents related to Amin’s defamation lawsuit against NBCUniversal have exposed some internal skepticism among NBC’s key decision-makers regarding the credibility of the whistleblower’s claims. Notably, Chris Scholl, who was responsible for approving the initial articles and broadcasts, had reservations about the lack of evidence backing the whistleblower’s allegations and labeled them as unverified. His internal communications clearly expressed this caution with remarks like, “We don’t know the truth.” Similarly, Maddow and Hayes also showed doubts during internal discussions, questioning the solidity of the accusations, according to documents.

Despite internal concerns, the network went ahead and aired the statements, which ultimately led to the defamation lawsuit. The judge pointed out that a jury could potentially find that NBC acted with actual malice, considering the doubts expressed and the failure to verify the claims before broadcasting them.

NBCUniversal defended its reporting by asserting that it was based on a thorough investigation and corroborated by information from other reputable news organizations. The network also tried to provide a balanced perspective by including statements from Amin, ICE, and LaSalle Corrections, all of which contradicted the whistleblower’s claims. Despite these efforts, the court determined that these defenses did not justify a summary judgment in NBCUniversal’s favor. The judge ruled that issues such as actual malice and the truthfulness of the statements should be decided by a jury, pointing to the conflicting evidence that had been presented in the case.

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Disclaimer: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.