Former President Donald Trump has sued CNN, a struggling news institution, for reputational injury from what he calls “fake news.” The complaint, filed on Monday, seeks hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and says that the network is actively working against him and a prospective 2024 candidacy. According to a court filing, Trump is seeking $75,000 in compensatory damages, $475 million in punitive damages, and legal expenses.
He claimed in a statement posted on his Truth Social platform that “a lawsuit was filed today against CNN, the once prestigious news channel that has devolved into a purveyor of disinformation, defamation, and Fake News, on a level that the American Public, and indeed the World, will not even believe is possible.”
“For years I have watched this take place, often in disbelief, but the time has finally come to hold CNN responsible and legally accountable for their willful deception and defamatory statements made about me,” he added.
A statement accompanying the post indicated that Trump also plans to file similar lawsuits against a number of other media outlets, though they were not listed.
The claim also accuses the network of doing all it can to undermine and disparage Trump in order to hurt him.”President Donald J. Trump has long been a critic of the defendant, Cable News Network, Inc. (‘CNN’) – not because CNN fails to report the news, but because CNN strives to manufacture the news,” according to the lawsuit.
Beyond simply emphasizing any negative information about the plaintiff and ignoring any positive information about him, CNN has sought to use its massive influence — ostensibly as a ‘trusted’ news source — to defame the plaintiff in the minds of its viewers and readers in order to defeat him politically, culminating in CNN claiming credit for ‘[getting] Trump out’ in the 2020 presidential election.”
“CNN’s campaign of dissuasion against the plaintiff in the form of libel and slander has only grown in recent months as CNN believes the plaintiff may run for president in 2024,” it stated.
“CNN has launched a smear campaign against the plaintiff, presenting comments in which he is compared to a cult leader, a Russian puppet, a dog whistler to white nationalists, and a racist.” The complaint stated, “It is the stuff of tabloids camouflaged as ‘honored’ news,” before going on to detail occasions where the word was used.
“CNN’s consistent use of ever-increasing defamatory characterizations of the Plaintiff, including equating him to [Adolph] Hitler and Nazism,” the lawsuit reads, “demonstrates that it published its defamatory remarks about the Plaintiff with genuine malice.”
The claim also mentions CNN using Nazi imagery to depict Trump, as well as a January 9 reference to “the Big Lie.”CNN’s coverage of Trump is described in the lawsuit as “part of its coordinated effort to tip the political balance to the Left,” with the employment of “scandalous, false, and defamatory labels” that amount to a “reckless disregard for the truth.”
“PolitiFact has awarded CNN the dreaded ‘Pants on Fire!’ label for stories equating Trump to Hitler. “However, it persists, necessitating the effort and expense of initiating the instant case,” the complaint continued.
“It is wanton and malicious ‘reporting’ intended to feed a narrative and to achieve the 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 complaint said.
In July, the former president formally demanded that CNN withdraw what he termed defamatory material in a notice of intent to file litigation. Specifically, the letter refuted CNN’s reporting that claimed Trump was “lying” about the results of the 2020 election.
“President Trump’s comments are not lies: He subjectively believes that the results of the 2020 presidential election turned on fraudulent voting activity in several key states,” the letter said.