CNN is asking a Florida judge to toss out a lawsuit filed by former President Trump against the news network on First Amendment grounds.
CNN and Trump’s attorneys have been battling in court over the past few weeks regarding the former president’s lawsuit accusing CNN of defamation over its coverage of his 2020 election claims.
The lawsuit was initially filed in October. Trump’s attorneys argue 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.”
In a federal court filing this week, CNN asked the judge to dismiss the suit, which seeks $475 million in punitive damages.
“The Complaint seeks to silence any criticism of Plaintiff’s debunked claim that the 2020 presidential election was ‘stolen.’ The lawsuit, though, does not even try to prove this claim is true, for the simple reason that evidence of material election fraud does not exist,” said CNN’s lawyers. “These claims are untenable and repugnant to a free press and open political debate.”
Trump’s initial lawsuit aimed at CNN journalists using the term “Big Lie” when referencing Trump’s assertions about election integrity. He has accused the network of attempting to associate him with Adolf Hitler.
“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,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.
CNN’s lawyers claimed the “Big Lie” is “widely used by not just CNN but many journalists and commentators to refer to Plaintiff’s unfounded claims of election fraud.”
“Any alleged association resulting therefrom are also ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ and ‘pure opinion’ under well-established principles of defamation law,” they added.
To prove defamation, public figures must prove journalists acted with malice or reckless disregard for the truth in their reporting, which is a high legal bar given First Amendment protections.
Trump has long rebuked CNN and the corporate media machine as heavily biased against him. His lawyers argue in their lawsuit against CNN that Trump has been slandered in recent months amid “fears” for his presidential bid in 2024.
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