Former President Donald Trump's years-long back-and-forth with CNN has a new development as of Monday, when Trump filed a lawsuit against the liberal cable network seeking more than $475 million in damages.
The legal complaint filed in U.S. District Court is pretty much what the world has come to expect in the long-running feud:
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.”
The latter of the smears propagated by CNN, according to the complaint, is the main focus of the litigation. "When labels like 'racist,' 'Russian lackey,' and 'insurrectionist' did not have the desired effect to undermine the Plaintiff’s candidacy when running for President or the Plaintiff’s accomplishments as President, CNN upped the stakes to conjure associations between the Plaintiff and arguably the most heinous figure in modern history," the complaint argues.
"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," Trump's lawsuit says before enumerating a number of instances to support the complaint's allegations.
The lawsuit against CNN also takes issue with the network and its talent's frequent use of "the big lie" to describe President Trump's claims about the 2020 election, then cites an interview with Stacey Abrams while she refused to accept the outcome of her gubernatorial contest loss to Brian Kemp — one in which CNN did not accuse her of furthering a lie, the "big" one or otherwise. "Instead, CNN recognized challenges to election integrity as valid and credible when addressed through a different political lens," the complaint says before also referencing the 2016 election and Democrats' refusal to accept Trump as the legitimate winner which was furthered by CNN.
According to Trump's lawsuit, "CNN’s disparate treatment of public figures who support its narrative versus those who do not, such as the Plaintiff, 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 defamation suit — embedded in full below — seeks the following damages:
- compensatory damages of more than the $75,000 jurisdictional limit to be determined at trial
- punitive damages to the tune of $475 million
- all taxable litigation costs, pre-judgment interest, and post-judgment interest
- trial by jury
Trump released a statement Monday evening saying he is "proud to file today’s lawsuit in order to begin the process of standing up to Fake News and the Mainstream Media" and calling CNN a "once prestigious news channel that has devolved into a purveyor of disinformation, defamation, and Fake News, at a level which the American Public, and indeed the World, will not even believe is possible."
Trump continued, explaining "the time has finally come to hold CNN responsible and legally accountable for their willful deception and defamatory statements made about me and both, directly and indirectly, my strong, devoted, and patriotic supporters—People who love the United States of America, but have been treated very unfairly, at so many levels."
The former president's statement also promised more legal actions against other media outlets "in the coming weeks and months" and said "we may bring appropriate action against the Unselect Committee of January 6th."