Former President Donald Trump wants CNN to pay big time for what he has dubbed “fake news.”
Saying the network is actively working against his potential 2024 campaign, Trump filed a lawsuit Monday against the network over its coverage of him.
Trump is seeking compensatory damages of more than $75,000, punitive damages of $475 million and court costs. Trump is also demanding a jury trial for the civil suit, the complaint said.
The lawsuit says CNN has gone out of its way to malign Trump with the intent of harming him.
“President Donald J. Trump, has been a long-time critic of the defendant, Cable News Network, Inc. (‘CNN’) — not because CNN does a bad job of reporting the news, but because CNN seeks to create the news,” the lawsuit said.
“Beyond simply highlighting any negative information about the plaintiff and ignoring all positive information about him, CNN has sought to use its massive influence — purportedly as a ‘trusted’ news source — to defame the plaintiff in the minds of its viewers and readers for the purpose of defeating him politically, culminating in CNN claiming credit for ‘[getting] Trump out’ in the 2020 presidential election,” the lawsuit continued.
“CNN’s campaign of dissuasion in the form of libel and slander against the plaintiff has only escalated in recent months as CNN fears the plaintiff will run for president in 2024,” the lawsuit said.
Calling CNN’s coverage of him “part of its concerted effort to tilt the political balance to the Left,” the lawsuit said the use of “scandalous, false and defamatory labels” rises to the level of a “reckless disregard for the truth.”
“CNN has been given the dreaded ‘Pants on Fire!’ designation by PolitiFact for its stories comparing Trump to Hitler. Still, it persists, requiring the time and expense of filing the instant lawsuit,” the complaint said.
“CNN has undertaken a smear campaign to malign the plaintiff with a barrage of negative associations and innuendos, broadcasting commentary that he is like a cult leader, a Russian lackey, a dog whistler to white supremacists and a racist. It is the stuff of tabloids cloaked as ‘honored’ news,” the complaint wrote, citing instances when each term was used.
The lawsuit focuses on comparison between Trump and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, saying, “CNN’s persistent use of ever-increasing defamatory characterizations of the Plaintiff up to and including comparing him to Hitler and Nazism demonstrates that it published its defamatory statements about the Plaintiff with actual malice.”
The lawsuit, which cites multiple CNN reports over the years, notes a Jan. 9 report in which Trump was likened to Hitler as well as continuing coverage that makes the comparison directly or indirectly through the use of the phrase “Big Lie,” which is linked to Hitler.
“CNN’s highly defamatory and persistent association of the plaintiff to Hitler and Hitler’s ‘Big Lie’ is no mistaken misappropriation,” the lawsuit said.
“It is wanton and malicious ‘reporting’ intended to feed a narrative and to achieve a desired end: to cause readers and viewers to associate the plaintiff with the lowest of low, to fear him, to not vote for him and to support campaigns against him,” the lawsuit said.
The suit said the different treatment meted out to Trump “is a clear indicator of CNN’s malice — and evidence that the Defendant is not reporting the news, but rather propagating its political views.”
The letter took issue with CNN’s claim that Trump was lying about the results of the 2020 election.
“President Trump’s comments are not lies: He subjectively believes that the results of the 2020 presidential election turned on fraudulent voting activity in several key states,” the letter said.
“President Trump harbors a subjective belief that he was unfairly deprived of a second term in office. This is particularly valid in the context of an incumbent president receiving over 74 million votes, a record number for any republican candidate in history,” the letter said.
“By refusing to acknowledge President Trump could be correct or that he could genuinely believe his contention is correct, CNN has willfully acted in disregard for the truth and has acted with reckless disregard for the truth. CNN’s relentless and willful campaign to brand President Trump a ‘liar’ and purveyor of the ‘Big Lie’ is defamatory in nature,” the letter said.
This summer, when Trump announced he would sue CNN, he said he would “also be commencing actions against other media outlets who have defamed me and defrauded the public regarding the overwhelming evidence of fraud throughout the 2020 Election,” according to The Hill.
As of Monday evening, CNN had yet to issue a public statement in reply to the suit.
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