Trump sues CNN for defamation, seeks $475 million in damages

As of press time, Trump has not commented publicly on the suit.

Updated: October 3, 2022 - 7:33pm

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Former President Donald Trump is suing cable news outlet CNN for defamation, pointing to its hostile coverage of his administration.

Trump seeks $475 million in punitive damages, alleging that 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."

Trump's attorneys filed the suit on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The suit faces considerable barriers to success, largely due to the demands on a plaintiff, especially a public official, to prove a news network did in fact defame someone. Trump will need to prove that CNN was malicious in its coverage or deliberately ignored the truth of matters on which they reported.

That is "a high legal bar to clear given First Amendment protections granted to the free press under the Constitution," according to The Hill. "The New York Times, for example, has not lost a defamation case in more than 50 years."

In a statement on the suit, released Monday evening, Trump lamented that the "once prestigious news channel" had "devolved into a purveyor of disinformation, defamation, and Fake News."

"I am proud to file today's lawsuit in order to begin the process of standing up to Fake News and the Mainstream Media," he added. Trump also mentioned that he would file suits against other outlets in the coming weeks and intended to take legal action against the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

Winning such a case is not impossible, however. Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann successfully secured considerable financial settlements from both CNN and the Washington Post for their coverage of a controversy that suggested the high schooler instigated a confrontation with an Indian activist. That depiction of events was ultimately proven false by the discovery of video footage showing that Nathan Phillips, Sandmann's antagonist, approached him. The exact sums of either settlement remain undisclosed.

Moreover, former GOP California Rep. Devin Nunes, now head of the Trump Media & Technology Group, has found some success in legal actions against his press hounds, with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals allowing his defamation suit against journalist Ryan Lizza and Hearst Media to return to trial court in late 2021.

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