Updated Oct 3, 2022 - Economy

Trump sues CNN for alleged defamation

Photo of Donald Trump speaking from a podium with a finger raised

Then-President Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin on Oct. 24, 2018. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former President Trump sued CNN on Monday for alleged defamation and is seeking at least $475 million in damages.

Why it matters: Trump has had a contentious relationship with the press, especially CNN, during his time as a candidate and elected official and has bashed news organizations as "fake news" and "enemy of the people."

What he's saying: The complaint, which was filed in a U.S. District Court in Florida, claims CNN has tried to taint Trump using defamatory language as part of a "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 complaint reads.
  • It alleged CNN has used language like "Trump's big lie" — referring to his claims that the 2020 election was stolen — "with reckless disregard for their truth or falsity, thereby acting with actual malice," citing the legal standard for libel cases in the U.S.
  • A CNN spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The big picture: Defamation suits have become more common as high-power figures look to challenge the media's first amendment power.

  • Trump himself is currently trying to delay proceedings in a defamation lawsuit filed against him by E. Jean Carroll, an author who has alleged he raped her in the mid-1990s.

Yes, but: A slew of recent precedents show how hard defamation can be to prove when it comes to media outlets in the U.S.

  • Former Republican Alaska Gov. and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin lost her defamation suit against The New York Times in February, after a court said she had failed to prove that the paper acted with "actual malice" toward her.
  • The Supreme Court earlier this year declined to revisit the decades-old defamation standard set in the landmark New York Times v. Sullivan.

Go deeper: Defamation trials amplify America's war over free speech

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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