Jun 10, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump demands apology over CNN poll showing Biden with 14-point lead

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President Trump. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump's reelection campaign in a cease-and-desist letter to CNN's CEO Jeff Zucker on Wednesday requested the network publicly apologize for a poll that showed former Vice President Joe Biden with 14-point lead.

Why it matters: CNN's poll came as part of a recent wave of bad news for the president. Fallout over Trump's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide Black Lives Matter protests have resulted in a spike for Biden in the latest polls, including in swing states such as Michigan and Texas.

  • Trump's approval ratings also dropped in a Gallup poll released Wednesday, plummeting to the lowest net approval since last October.
  • This is the first-known incidence of Trump or his campaign threatening legal action to withhold poll results, the Washington Post writes.

What they're saying: “Media polls such as these are designed to manufacture an anti-Trump narrative and misinform and mislead actual voters,” according to the letter. “It’s a stunt and a phony poll to cause voter suppression, stifle momentum and enthusiasm for the President..."

The other side: CNN's legal counsel responded to the Trump campaign in a letter, writing: "to [their] knowledge, this is the first time in its 40 year history that CNN had been threatened with legal action because an American politician or campaign did not like CNN's polling results."

  • "To the extent we have received legal threats from political leaders in the past, they have typically come from countries like Venezuela or other regimes where there is little or no respect for a free and independent media."

Between the lines: Trump hired McLaughlin & Associates to "analyze" the poll, according to CNN, a firm that ranks as one of the least accurate in the industry, according to FiveThirtyEight.

  • "Your letter is factually and legally baseless," CNN's legal counsel wrote. "It is yet another bad faith attempt by the campaign to threaten litigation to muzzle speech it does not want voters to read or hear."
  • "Your allegations and demands are rejected in their entirety."
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