Donald Trump filed his most recent defamation lawsuit against a news organisation on Monday. This time, he is suing CNN for $475 million in punitive damages, claiming that the network attempted to “defame the Plaintiff in the minds of its viewers and readers for the purpose of defeating him politically.”
Trump’s complaint centres on allusions to the “Big Lie,” or the former president’s unsubstantiated assertions that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against him, made by CNN on-air personalities. Trump claims that the comparisons make him sound like Adolf Hitler.
“CNN’s highly defamatory and persistent association of the Plaintiff to Hitler and Hitler’s ‘Big Lie’ is no mistaken misappropriation,” Trump’s attorneys note. “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 inflammatory ‘reporting’ is not intended to help discover truth or actual facts or to help educate readers and viewers to come to their own informed decisions. It is intended to aggravate, scare, and trigger people. Indeed, the Hitler characterization is one that courts across jurisdictions have historically considered defamation per see,” they add.
At the time of writing this, CNN is yet to comment on the matter.
The network’s attorneys responded to the former president’s threat of litigation by writing that he had “not identified a single false or defamatory statement” and that it was “well-established that the outcome of the 2020 presidential election was unaffected by fraud, as verified by the dismissal of no fewer than 50 lawsuits by judges across the United States asserting otherwise, the sanctioning of multiple attorneys for making unsubstantiated election-fraud claims, and investigations conducted by the Department of Justice, Congress, and various state and local bodies.”
The Trump campaign for president sued CNN in 2020 for a Larry Noble op-ed that stated, “The Trump campaign assessed the potential risks and benefits of again seeking Russia’s help in 2020 and has decided to leave that option on the table.” The judge came to the conclusion that the Trump campaign had not convincingly claimed malice, even though he wrote that the statement may be read as fact rather than opinion.
Chris Licht, who took over as CNN’s chairman and CEO in May, “reportedly held a conference call with top CNN producers in which he expressed displeasure with the use of ‘Big Lie.’ Since then, CNN’s on-air personalities — including John King, Jake Tapper, John Avlon, Brianna Keilar, and Don Lemon, among others — have continued to use the phrase in describing the Plaintiff and the Plaintiff’s questions of election integrity despite an apparent admonition from their Chief Executive Officer.”
Trump’s lawsuit comes as Maggie Haberman of The New York Times launches a publicity campaign for her eagerly anticipated book about Trump, Confidence Man, which contains a number of damaging discoveries. Trump also asserts that CNN called him a “racist.”
Elaine Chao, his former secretary of transportation and a person of Asian origin, was referred to as “Coco Chow” by the former president on Friday. A Truth Social rant against Chao’s husband, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, made reference to it.