Trump Sues CNN For Defamation, Seeks $475 Million IN Damages

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

Former President Trump has been the target of the news media since he began his initial run for the presidency in 2016. In fact, an array of conservative news media sprung into being due to the liberal slant of the mainstream media, who bashed Trump at every opportunity.

Taken at face value, mainstream news stories about Donald Trump since 2026 on the whole paint a negative picture. If the man had been charged with every crime the media suggests, he would have been in jail long ago. In fact, he has never been charged with any crime that the liberal mainstream media has assigned to him.

In the United States, it is generally thought that celebrities and public figures are fair fodder for the media, since “any news is good news” when it comes to keeping one’s name in the limelight. But there is an extent to which lines are crossed.

Defamation is defined as “the action of damaging the good reputation of someone, slander or libel”.

In suing media for defamation there is a special burden on public figures to prove their accusation.

In the First Amendment Encyclopedia, Stephen Wermiel states:

“Actual malice” is the legal standard established by the Supreme court for libel cases to determine when public officials or public figures may recover damages in lawsuits against the news media. Public officials cannot win libel cases without proof of actual malice.”

The actual malice is defined as “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”

Recognizing that the standard is a subjective one, the Court requires proof that the media actually had doubts about the truth or falsity of a story.

So the plaintiff who sues has the burden of proving the mindset of the defendant. the actual proof must be “clear and convincing evidence”.

The application of this standard of malice applies to public figures, not just public officials. The standard for private individuals is somewhat different.

So for a public figure to win such a case against the media, their work is cut out for them.

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, public figure 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.

Now former President Donald Trump is fed up with a certain network that has repeatedly bashed him.

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

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

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.”

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, Just The News 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.

Given the popular dislike of “disinformation” yet the rampant distribution of disinformation in both news media and social media, this has the earmarks of a defining case to set a precedent concerning how far news media can go in regard to negative coverage of a public figure.

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