By Rachel Spears — Political Editor
Former president Donald Trump filed a lawsuit against TV network CNN seeking $475 million in damages.
Trump was the US President from January 2017-2021 during which he was involved in many controversies— including two impeachments, issues with protesters and strange dealings with foreign leaders. During his 2020 campaign for President White House, Trump and his team sued The New York Times and Washington Post over opinion pieces that linked the campaign to Russia. Trump lost his 2020 bid for a second term in the White House though he maintains that the election was “stolen” from him. CNN reported on many of these stories over the course of his campaign, presidency, and afterwards.
A court filing in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida claims that the former President was smeared “with a series of ever-more scandalous, false, and defamatory labels,” by the cable news network.
The lawsuit lists several instances when Trump was allegedly called a “cult leader, a Russian lackey, a dog whistler to white supremacists, and a racist.” CNN has also appeared to compare the former President to German leader Adolf Hitler, even showing images of the infamous dictator in stories about Trump.
Trump’s attorneys say that CNN has used its position as a widely viewed network to turn people against the former President, resulting in the loss of the presidency. “[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,” they said.
CNN has declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Trump has not commented on whether or not he will run again in 2024. Despite this, Trump says he is allegedly preparing to sue more media companies. “In the coming weeks and months we will also be filing lawsuits against a large number of other Fake News Media Companies for their lies, defamation, and wrongdoing, including as it pertains to ‘The Big Lie,’ that they used so often in reference to their disinformation attack on Presidential Election of 2020,” said Trump in a Save America PAC letter.
Trump’s lawyers are confident that their Plaintiff could win. It would “vindicate the First Amendment’s marketplace of ideas,” the lawyers said. But this case would overturn the 1964 Supreme Court ruling New York Times Company v. Sullivan which enhanced First Amendment protections for journalists.
Jessice Levinson, a professor of law at Loyola Marymount University says that because of Trump’s status as a public figure, it will be difficult to prove that CNN defamed him— His lawyers would have to demonstrate that these comments were presented as fact, not opinion.
Trump remains a staunch critic of the media. During his presidency he repeatedly called on the “fake news media” to be less biased. “Stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly,” Trump said.