A federal judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by former President Donald Trump against CNN on Saturday, after Trump argued the cable network had unfairly attacked him in recent years—the latest failed defamation claim by the former president, who has frequently deployed similar lawsuits against his adversaries.
District Judge Raag Singhai, a Trump appointee presiding in the Southern District of Florida, delivered his decision on Saturday, dismissing Trump’s claim against CNN. The claim alleged that the network used the phrase “the Big Lie” to connect Trump to his false claims about voter fraud, while also comparing him to Adolf Hitler. In his ruling, Judge Singhai pointed out that the network’s use of the phrase did not reasonably suggest that Trump advocated the persecution and genocide of any group, including Jews. He emphasized that no sensible viewer could plausibly draw such an inference from the context. Furthermore, Singhai clarified that labeling someone as “Hitler-like” does not constitute a verifiable statement of fact that could support a defamation claim.
In response to the court’s decision, a Trump campaign spokesperson conveyed agreement with Judge Singhai’s stance on Nazi references in political discourse, denouncing such comparisons as “odious and repugnant.” The spokesperson also suggested that CNN could face accountability for its alleged mistreatment of Trump.
$475 million. That’s the amount Trump sought in punitive damages.
Proving defamation cases can be a challenging task, especially when the plaintiff is a public figure. It requires demonstrating “actual malice,” which means showing that the defendant knowingly made false statements or did so with reckless disregard for the truth. The success of the claim hinges on whether the plaintiff can prove that the defendant made objectively false statements while acting negligently.
In recent years, Trump has filed several defamation lawsuits against media companies and adversaries, but he has lost all those that have been ruled on. One such lawsuit involved a $72 million claim against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, and nearly 50 others, including former FBI director James Comey. Trump alleged that they engaged in a racketeering plot to falsely link his election campaign to Russia. However, this suit was dismissed several months later. Trump also filed two claims against the New York Times in 2020 and 2021, both of which were thrown out. His social media company sued the Washington Post for $3.8 billion in May, following a report suggesting a porn-linked entity would gain a sizable stake in the company. This came after another lawsuit filed by Trump against the same paper, which published two opinion pieces suggesting Russia aided his 2016 presidential campaign. A judge later ruled that it was Trump’s campaign that had acted with reckless disregard for the truth. Additionally, in 2020, Trump sued CNN, but the case was also dismissed. More recently, he filed a countersuit against E. Jean Carroll, who had claimed that Trump sexually abused her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the 1990s.