Former US President Donald Trump is seeking $475 million in damages from broadcaster CNN, claiming the network defamed him by challenging his claims of electoral fraud and comparing him to Adolf Hitler.
In his law suit, Trump claims that CNN led a 'campaign of libel and slander' against him, and also suggested he would bring legal cases against other media companies.
Filed in the US District Court in Florida, the 29-page suit focuses on CNN's use of the term 'The Big LIe' regarding Trump's claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Trump argues that 'The Big Lie' has Nazi connotation, and has been used more than 7,700 times on the network since January last year.
“As a part of its concerted effort to tilt the political balance to the left, CNN has tried to taint the plaintiff with a series of ever-more scandalous, false, and defamatory labels of ‘racist’, ‘Russian lackey’, ‘insurrectionist’, and ultimately ‘Hitler’, ” the lawsuit alleges.
CNN has declined to comment on the case.
Trump’s lawsuit highlights a special report in January this year by the presenter Fareed Zakaria that drew comparisons between the 76-year-old and Hitler, that included footage of the Nazi leader.
“It is intended to aggravate, scare and trigger people,” Trump said in a statement yesterday.
His claim cites an interview with a psychiatrist, Allen Frances, broadcast by CNN on its Reliable Sources programme hosted by Brian Stelter, one of the station’s anchors at the time, in which Frances commented that “Trump is as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin and Mao were in the last century”.
Chris Licht, chief executive of CNN, is said to have told staff in June to phase out the use of “The Big Lie” when referring to Trump’s election claims. During a meeting with producers, Licht apparently warned that using the term was too close to the Democratic Party’s “branding”.
Trump suggested yesterday that similar lawsuits would be filed against other news organisations. He also threatened to bring “appropriate action” against the House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.
While in office Trump repeatedly attacked CNN, calling the network “fake news” and claimed media bias against him.