Following hot on the heels of lawsuits against The New York Times and the Washington Post, President Donald Trump’s campaign has fired another round of heavy artillery in the war against fake news. As in the previous two cases, the campaign is accusing CNN of making “false and defamatory” statements about President Trump and his supposed attempts to seek help from Russia in the 2020 election.
According to the Trump campaign’s senor legal adviser, the lawsuit contends that CNN did not simply publish fake news by accident; they did so knowingly and maliciously.
“The complaint alleges CNN was aware of the falsity at the time it published them but did so for the intentional purpose of hurting the campaign while misleading its own readers in the process,” said lawyer Jenna Ellis. “The campaign filed this lawsuit against CNN and the preceding suits against The New York Times and The Washington Post to hold the publishers accountable for their reckless false reporting and also to establish the truth.”
Fox News, which exclusively obtained access to the complaint, reported: “It states in part that CNN claimed Trump’s campaign ‘assessed the potential risks and benefits of again seeking Russia’s help in 2020 and has decided to leave that option on the table.’ The complaint said that CNN was well aware the statements were false ‘because there was an extensive record of statements from the Campaign and the administration expressly disavowing any intention to seek Russian assistance’ but promoted the claim anyway.”
In the lawsuit, the campaign tells the court that they tried to resolve the issue with CNN privately, asking the network to take down the offending statements and post a retraction. CNN executives, however, declined to do so, leaving the Trump campaign with no other recourse.
“The Campaign therefore was left with no alternative but to file this lawsuit to: publicly establish the truth, properly inform CNN’s readers and audience (and the rest of the world) of the true facts, and seek appropriate remedies for the harm caused by CNN’s false reporting and failure to retract and apologize for it,” the complaint reads.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, the law gives media organizations wide leeway when reporting on public figures such as the president. For that reason alone, we find it hard to believe that the lawsuits against CNN and others will be successful. These are in another category from the wildly misleading reporting against the Covington Catholic kids, who were private citizens who did not deserve to be smeared by national news organizations.
Nonetheless, these lawsuits put CNN, The New York Times, and the Washington Post on notice: Blatantly fake news will no longer be tolerated by this administration. Whether or not these lawsuits are successful, just filing them could be enough to make these outlets think twice about publishing lies about President Trump.