A defamation lawsuit against NBCUniversal is headed to trial after a Georgia judge ruled that Rachel Maddow, Nicolle Wallace, Chris Hayes and other journalists reported “verifiably false” claims about a doctor they said performed “mass hysterectomies” on ICE center detainees.  

MSNBC and NBC journalists are accused of reporting 39 false claims about the doctor they called the “uterus collector” based on a whistleblower account from a nurse named Dawn Wooten who worked at the facility.

“NBC investigated the whistleblower letter’s accusations; that investigation did not corroborate the accusations and even undermined some; NBC republished the letter’s accusations anyway,” Judge Lisa Godbey Wood of the Southern District of Georgia wrote in a 108-page summary in June. 

Gynecologist Dr. Mahendra Amin – who worked at the detention center for three and a half years and reportedly performed only two hysterectomies during that time – is seeking $30 million, which is reportedly the same amount as Maddow’s yearly salary. 

NBC journalists first reported the story in September 2020 via an article published on the NBC website. MSNBC anchors then picked up the story for numerous broadcast segments.

Maddow “initially questioned” the reports and “jumping to conclusions,” but still covered the story on her weekly show, according to court documents.

NBC’s standards department reviewed and approved reports even though the nurse provided “no evidence to back up her claims,” an NBC standards deputy said at the time according to court documents.

The standards deputy, Christopher Scholl, was unsure whether to publish an NBCNews.com article.

“She [the whistleblower] has no direct knowledge of what she’s claiming, is unable to name the doctor involved (if I understood correctly), and we are unable to verify any of it or determine whether there really is a story here,” Scholl said in an email. “Essentially, it boils down to a single source—with an agenda—telling us things we have no basis to believe are true.”

And the reporters who wrote the story – Jacob Soboroff and Julia Ainsley – shared concerns. 

It doesn’t “sound like they have much beyond the complaint,” Soboroff texted Ainsley in September, according to court documents. 

“Only two hysterectomies?” Ainsley reportedly replied. 

And an attorney for one of the ICE detainees told the reporters that their client’s hysterectomy was necessary due to her cancer diagnosis, according to court documents.

But the reporters published their story titled “Lawyers allege abuse of migrant women by gynecologist for Georgia ICE detention center” the next day.

MSNBC did not respond to requests for comment.

Dozens of Democratic senators called for an investigation into the doctor’s practices at the ICE center after the MSNBC broadcasts. The Senate probe found no evidence of “mass hysterectomies” – just two procedures that were deemed medically necessary, according to a Senate report.

Amin sued MSNBC for defamation in September 2021.

As the case heads to trial, the most difficult task for Amin’s lawyer – Scott Grubman, who previously worked as a law clerk for the judge who ruled in favor of Amin – will be proving that the NBC journalists had an intent of malice.

“Dr. Amin is a beloved physician who has treated his patients with the utmost care and compassion for decades,” his lawyer told The Post. “An immigrant himself, the allegation that he would take advantage of ICE detainees is ludicrous.”

This is not the first time MSNBC has been slapped with a defamation suit.

Kentucky high school student Nicholas Sandmann sued MSNBC after reporters repeatedly covered a 2019 incident in which the student was caught on video smiling at a Native American activist as he beat a drum and chanted. 

Media reports claimed Sandmann was smirking at the activist in a racially charged interaction. The suit was settled in December 2021.

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