‘I Wasn’t Going To Go On There And Have A Normal Discussion’: How A Prankster Trolled Newsmax On Air

attends The Tenth Annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic at Liberty State Park on June 3, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Former Obama speechwriter David Litt speaks on stage during A Moth Summer Night's Dream: The 20th Anniversary Moth Ball at Capitale on June 6, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for The Moth)
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May 11, 2021 2:17 p.m.

Newsmax host Rob Finnerty found himself getting bamboozled on live television on Monday morning by his own guest, former Obama speechwriter David Litt, who used the interview as an opportunity to call out the conservative media outlet for fueling Trumpland’s deranged conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.

The segment went off the rails immediately after it began when Finnerty asked Litt what his thoughts were on SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s performance as the host of Saturday Night Live.

“Well Rob, it’s a great question,” the guest replied. “What happened on SNL this weekend was that people made stuff up and then said it on television like it’s true, and that actually happens pretty frequently in American TV.”

Then, just seconds in, the interview took a turn.

“For example in 2020, Dominion Voting Systems sued Newsmax over its false claims about election fraud,” he continued. “Newsmax was lying to its own viewers and Newsmax had to settle that lawsuit.”

“Actually, I just need to check in: Are you still telling that lie or are you telling new lies?” Litt added.

Finnerty snapped, “I’m sorry David, do you want to talk about something completely non-related and try to catch me on a Monday morning totally off topic, or do you want to talk about Elon Musk?”

“I can see why you don’t want to talk about Dominion Voting Systems because if you do, Newsmax could get sued and lose billions of dollars because these are lies,” Litt replied.

He didn’t let up when the Newsmax host, grumbling that “this is a very funny moment for” Litt, attempted to steer the conversation back to SNL.

“Did Dominion Voting Systems have any impact on the 2020 election?” Litt asked Finnerty.

The show producers cut his feed.

“David, we look forward to having you back on very soon again. That was a stellar interview,” Finnerty huffed after his guest was removed.

In an interview with TPM, Litt explained what led up to that moment.

“I knew I wasn’t going to go on there and have a normal discussion, as though Newsmax hadn’t helped incite the riots on January 6, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to back out at the last minute or [instead] try to point out what most Newsmax viewers don’t get to see very often,” Litt said.

The former speechwriter — now an author and television producer — said that Newsmax had planned for him and Finnerty to discuss “wokeness” in late night comedy, a common set-up for handwringing over right-wing culture grievances.

Litt nearly backed out of the interview at the last minute, believing that the pro-Trump network just wanted to bring on a Democrat to make themselves look more like a “legitimate” outlet after lying about the election being rigged against ex-President Donald Trump.

But the writer decided he’d use his appearance to expose Newsmax’s dishonesty after discussing it with his wife.

“She said ‘Well, is there a reason no one else does this?’” Litt recounted. “And I was like ‘That’s a very good question.’”

That on-air callout “is the kind of thing I would hope someone else would do if they were in this position, so I had to at least give it a shot,” the writer said.

He said that his goal wasn’t just to call out Newsmax for its disinformation, but to make its audience aware that they were being “defrauded” by the outlet.

“It was very important to me not just to say ‘you’re lying,’ but ‘lying to your viewers,” Litt told TPM.

The lawsuit Litt referred to in the Newsmax interview was Dominion executive Eric Coomer’s defamation suit. The conservative network had made Coomer the face of the outlet’s fake narrative claiming that the voting tech firm had sabotaged ballots for Trump.

Newsmax reached a settlement on undisclosed terms with Coomer on April 30. On that day, the conservative outlet admitted in an official statement that there was “no evidence” that Coomer “interfered with Dominion voting machines or voting software in any way.”

Newsmax also backpedaled on its claims in late December when Smartmatic, another voting machine manufacturer that was at the center of Trumpland’s conspiracy theories about election fraud, threatened to sue.

Litt’s interview wasn’t Newsmax’s only on-air disaster with respect to its bogus coverage of the election: Newsmax anchor Bob Sellers stormed off the set in the middle of MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell appearance’s in February as the pillow tycoon ranted about Dominion and tried to peddle more lies about election fraud.

Watch the interview below:

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