The reality star turned president wants $475 million from the network for allegedly wrecking his reputation and career.
Former US president Donald Trump is suing his media arch-nemesis, news channel CNN, for defamation, demanding $475 million for allegedly weaponizing its reputation as a “reliable source” to destroy his own. The real estate mogul turned Republican politician filed the suit on Monday in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
“Beyond simply highlighting any negative information about [Trump] and ignoring all positive information about him, CNN has sought to use its massive influence —purportedly as a ‘trusted’ news source — to defame [Trump] in the minds of its viewers and readers for the purpose of defeating him politically,” the suit argues.
It adds that CNN used “scandalous” labels to destroy the former president’s image for its audience, denouncing him as a “racist,” “Russian lackey,” “insurrectionist,” and of course “Hitler.” The latter, at least, rises to the level of “actual malice,” Trump claimed, referring to the standard required for a public figure to claim defamation in the US.
The lawsuit furnishes numerous examples of CNN’s anti-Trump vitriol, pointing out that even infamously Trump-averse platforms like fact-checker Politifact have given CNN the “dreaded ‘Pants On Fire!’ designation” over its Hitler comparisons – of which over 645 were found in a scan of Westlaw’s news database.
As a result of CNN’s constant “Trump is Hitler” narrative, its audience has irrevocably linked the two, the lawsuit charges, describing that outcome as irrevocably detrimental to his political career. It cites Project Veritas’ undercover camera footage from CNN HQ, in which network employees boast their coverage was both intended to motivate their audience to vote him out and responsible for that ultimate result.
CNN not only caused Trump “damage to his reputation, embarrassment, pain, humiliation, and mental anguish,” according to the lawsuit, but did so out of spite and aware they were lying, having reportedly refused to correct a list of “false and defamatory statements” Trump’s legal team sent them in July. His lawyers have demanded a removal of compensatory damage limits, $475 million in punitive damages, payment of legal and travel fees, and a trial by jury – which is presumably unlikely to be broadcast live on CNN.
Trump is himself currently battling multiple lawsuits, including a $250 million suit alleging fraudulent business practices in the state of New York, as well as a criminal investigation related to allegations he improperly kept classified documents on his property at Mar-a-Lago after leaving the White House. While he was impeached twice by the Democrat-led House during his four-year term, he was never convicted, and has strongly hinted he will run for president again in 2024.