Trump campaign sues Wisconsin TV station for airing 'defamatory' ad

The advertisement from a progressive group makes President Trump sound like he's calling the coronavirus a hoax

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President Trump on April 10, 2020
President Trump on April 10, 2020
(Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Last Updated:
April 13, 2020 - 6:02pm

President Trump's campaign has filed a lawsuit against a Wisconsin television station for airing what it describes as a "false and defamatory" advertisement that makes the president sound like he's calling the coronavirus a hoax.

In addition to the audio, the advertisement from Democratic super PAC Priorities USA includes on-screen text that creates the appearance that President Trump is saying, "The coronavirus, this is their new hoax."

Trump's campaign says that the ad juxtaposes audio clips together to falsely imply that the president spoke that sentence.

The suit comes after the TV station – WJFW-NBC – continued to air the ad after the campaign says it sent a cease-and-desist letter and laid out assertions against the accuracy of the ad.

"President Trump was referring to the Democrats’ politicization of the coronavirus crisis and likening it to their reaction to the Mueller Russia hoax and the sham impeachment," the campaign says, pointing to several fact check articles to bolster its case. 

A Washington Post fact check article from March about a Biden campaign ad that juxtaposed clips of Trump saying "Coronavirus" and "this is their new hoax" noted, "The full quote shows Trump is criticizing Democratic talking points and the media’s coverage of his administration’s response to coronavirus. He never says that the virus itself is a hoax, and although the Biden camp included the word 'their,' the edit does not make clear to whom or what Trump is referring."

Priorities USA Chairman Guy Cecil said in a statement responding to the lawsuit: “This is pretty simple. Donald Trump doesn’t want voters to hear the truth and he’s trying to bully TV stations into submission. The truth is that Trump ignored warnings from experts and his own team and downplayed the coronavirus even as it spread unchecked across the country and the world. Americans are now suffering as a result of his inaction. We will never stop airing the facts and holding the president accountable for his actions.”

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