In September 2019, popular meme creator Logan Cook wanted to exercise his First Amendment freedom, but now some parents want to make him — and President Donald Trump — pay for the privilege.
Cook — who creates under the name of Carpe Donktum — created a social media video titled “Terrified Toddler Runs From Racist Baby,” which re-imagined a popular video that showed a black and white toddler running to hug each other.
Cook’s video first showed manipulated footage of one child running away from the other. Text on a fabricated CNN chyron read “Racist Baby Probably A Trump Voter,” reflecting Cook’s opinion of how CNN might have distorted the otherwise heartwarming video.
The video then showed what “actually happened,” and played the scene of the two toddlers hugging.
“America is not the problem,’ the video said. “Fake news is.”
“If you see something say something. Only you can prevent fake news dumpster fires.”
Cook’s video featuring the original video as well as his satirical take on how CNN would have played it was retweeted in June by Trump’s campaign.
“[Trump] was making a point about CNN specifically,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany would later explain, according to The Hill. “He was making a point that CNN has regularly taken him out of context.”
But Cook, Trump and the Trump campaign are all now facing a lawsuit from the parents of the two children.
The lawsuit filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York claims the video violated New York’s civil rights laws.
“The video was created for the purposes of crass commercial exploitation for Cook’s economic benefit as well as that of Donald Trump and his re-election campaign,” according to a news release from Ven Johnson Law PLC.
“Cook created the false video knowing of its falsity and/or with reckless disregard of the true nature of the original video,” the lawsuit said, and “created the video for the purposes of commercial exploitation for his economic benefit.”
The lawsuit said Cook’s action in reshaping the original video was “extreme, shocking and outrageous” and “beyond the bounds of decency.”
And Trump, in sharing the video, pushed “his brand of sensationalism in complete disregard for the truth,” the lawsuit said.
The video was later taken down by Twitter and Facebook. Shortly after that, Cook was permanently barred from Twitter.
However, the video can still be found on YouTube.
“It is readily apparent that not only did the defendants publish the video knowing of its falsity and with reckless disregard of the true nature of the original video, they blatantly violated these young boys’ civil rights,” said Attorney Ven Johnson, who is representing one boy’s parents. “These boys should not be at the center of divisive political propaganda.”
The lawsuit claims that the parents suffered “significant damages including severe emotional distress and irreparable harm.”
“This is a sad excuse for a lawsuit, calculated to do nothing but waste a lot of time and money and to generate some tawdry publicity,” Cook’s lawyer, Ron Coleman of the Dhillon Law Group, told The Daily Caller. “It’s going to backfire — in more ways than one.”
“The claim that creating social or political commentary about a video that has been purposely shared to millions of people, featured in news articles, and broadcast on television violates anyone’s legal rights is patently absurd,” Cook said in a statement posted on his Instagram account. “I look forward to meeting [the plaintiffs] in court with my lawyer Ron Coleman and my co-defendant Donald J. Trump.”
Cook also noted in his post that the parents had initially filed a claim that Cook had committed copyright infringement, but never followed that up with any proof that he did, leading him to predict that the new lawsuit would be thrown out.
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