Judge Dismisses Trump’s Defamation Suit Against CNN

Trump tried to claim the phrase “the Big Lie” made him look like a Nazi.

zz/Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx

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Legal challenges to Donald Trump keep piling up, but despite his best efforts, the former president’s attempts to use the legal system to target his enemies keep coming up short. His latest defeat comes from a federal judge in Florida—a Trump appointee no less—who dismissed a defamation lawsuit Trump had filed against CNN for its use of the phrase “the Big Lie” in their coverage of his attacks on the 2020 election results. Trump had claimed the phrase, which has been used frequently since the 2020 election to describe Trump’s sprawling conspiracy theory that the election was stolen from him, was defamatory, because it has been associated with the Nazi regime.

Judge Raag Singhal tossed the lawsuit—with prejudice, meaning it can’t be brought back—saying that while Nazi leaders, including Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, are often connected with the phrase, no reasonable viewers would think that CNN had been trying to call Trump a Nazi. He also noted that it was political speech and a statement of opinion, not fact, so it wasn’t something Trump had grounds to sue over.

Despite his quick condemnation of Trump’s lawsuit, Singhal made clear he’s no friend of CNN or really sympathetic to any journalist. Part of Singhal’s reasoning for why no reasonable viewer would make the connection appears to be that he doesn’t think the news media is very credible. As an example, Singhal inserted a brief polemic complaining about the media’s coverage of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down affirmative action

“Within minutes of the release of the opinion, the free press had reported just what the opinion supposedly said and meant although it was clearly impossible that the reporter had read the opinion,” Singhal complained, clearly unfamiliar with how reporters prepare to cover major stories. “And of course, those initial news articles were repeatedly shared, commented upon and disseminated over social media and still to this day the reasonable viewer very likely hasn’t read the opinion and never will. This is the news model of today.”

Singhal, who was appointed to the federal bench by Trump in September 2019, also concluded that even if a viewer did make the connection between Trump and Nazism, it’s too vague of a charge to be legally actionable.

“CNN’s statements, while repugnant, were not, as a matter of law, defamatory,” he concluded.

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