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Trump sues CNN for defamation- seeking $475,000,000.00. See what’s in the complaint

CNN is charged with willfully participating in libel and slander against Trump in order to harm his chances of running for president in 2024, according to the lawsuit filed by lawyers Lindsey Halligan and Ifrah Law. The defendant’s attorneys have not yet made an appearance. The case is Trump v. Cable News Network, Inc., case number 0:22-cv-61842.

Former President Donald Trump sued CNN in Florida federal court over published and broadcast statements calling him a “racist,” “Russian lackey,” “insurrectionist” and “Hitler.” In the lawsuit, CNN is accused of comparing Trump to Hitler on numerous occasions, including in a Fareed Zakaria-hosted special program from January 2022 that featured video of the German dictator.

The Hill reported, “ In order to prove defamation, public officials and other public figures must prove journalists acted with actual malice or reckless disregard for the truth in their reporting, a high legal bar to clear given First Amendment protections granted to the free press under the Constitution. The New York Times, for example, has not lost a defamation case in more than 50 years.” The Hill also reported, “Licht reportedly told network anchors in a meeting earlier this year that they should rein in the use of the phrase “the big lie” when referring to Trump’s election claims, worrying it was too partisan.”

Here is a brief overview of what is in the complaint. Case 0:22-cv-61842-XXXX Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 10/03/2022

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA FORT LAUDERDALE DIVISION

The Plaintiff, 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 (“fake news,” as the Plaintiff has characterized it in public statements). 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. 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. As a part of its concerted effort to tilt the political balance to the Left, CNN has tried to taint the Plaintiff with a series of ever-more scandalous, false, and defamatory labels of “racist,” “Russian lackey,” “insurrectionist,” and ultimately “Hitler.”

These labels are neither hyperbolic nor opinion: these are repeatedly reported as true fact, with purported factual support, by allegedly “reputable” newscasters, acting not merely with reckless disregard for the truth of their statements (sufficient to meet the definition of the legal standard for “actual malice”) but acting with real animosity for the Plaintiff and seeking to cause him true harm (the way “actual malice” commonly is understood). 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. On page five of the complaint, CNN has had the opportunity to review your letter of July 21, 2022, and to evaluate your demand to take down and retract the 34 articles and television segments you identify as defamatory, and to cease referring to representations made by former President Trump regarding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election as “lies.” We decline your request.

gov.uscourts.flsd.621239.1.0

 

While we will address the merits of any lawsuit should one be filed, we note that you have not identified a single false or defamatory statement in your letter. It is 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. As to your preservation demand, we will preserve the relevant materials to the extent required by law. We send this response without waiver of CNN’s rights and remedies, all of which are expressly reserved.

On page eight of the complaint it reads, The report goes on to discuss the Plaintiff’s challenge to election integrity in the 2020 presidential election and that democracy is under attack—not because of potential fraud in the election process but because the Plaintiff questioned the election results. Id. A focal point of the report is a discussion of the ascendancy of Hitler and comparisons to the Plaintiff, interspersing discussion of Hitler and Nazi Germany with footage of the Plaintiff. Id. Zakaria states in the report, “Let’s be very clear. Donald Trump is not Adolf Hitler.” Id. But the disclaimer is lost in an otherwise direct and graphic analogy. 17. The effect on viewers is apparent from responses to the program on Twitter15: “Excellent and chilling. The parallels with the rise of Hitler are obvious and undeniable right down to the lies and conspiracy theories,” “Fareed Zakaria lays out the ways in which this threat is real and parallels historical threats;” “The similarity between Hitler in 1930s Germany and Trump in 2016 are notorious. And the way you made the segment by on and off alternate images of both. Even if not apparent before, you made it now Id. (emphasis added).

Furthermore, the complaint mentions Brian Stelter, who was recently let go from CNN and host of the television show” Reliable Sources.” On August 25, 2019, CNN broadcast on its “Reliable Sources” program hosted by then-anchor Brian Stelter, an interview with psychiatrist, Allen Frances. In the broadcast, Frances claimed that “Trump is as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were in the last century.”16 Frances’ statements were analyzed by PolitiFact, a website that holds itself out as “a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others on its Truth-O-Meter.”17 PolitiFact determined that Frances’ statements regarding the Plaintiff merited the “Pants on Fire!” rating of untruth.18 CNN recently cancelled Stelter’s “Reliable Sources” program, which was made public on August 18, 2022. Reporting on the cancellation identifies Stelter’s historic bias against the Plaintiff, Republicans, and non-liberal news outfits. Additional “reporting” by CNN that associates the Plaintiff with Hitler include, a. A March 20, 2019, broadcast with the headline “Top House Democrats Compare Trump’s rise to Hitler’s.”20 The “reporting” is nothing more than self-serving pronouncements by political opponents of the Plaintiff and their news proxy (and political participant), CNN.

This story will be updated once the parties enter into court unless something happens before trial.

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