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A Manhattan judge on Friday tossed a defamation lawsuit against CNN brought by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) in 2019.

The state of play: U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain threw out the suit, which sought $435 million in damages, because Nunes "failed to request a retraction in a timely fashion or adequately state his claims," AP writes.

  • The judge cited a technicality, finding that California law applied to the case and Nunes had failed to request a retraction as is mandatory under state law. The congressman's attorney claimed the laws of Virginia or Washington, D.C., should apply, but the judge ruled that it made more sense to use the laws of Nunes’ home state.

What she's saying: "The California Civil Code limits a defamation plaintiff's recovery to special damage unless the plaintiff makes a specific written demand for a retraction within a short period of time," the judge wrote.

  • "The notice and demand must be served within 20 days after knowledge of the publication or broadcast of the statements claimed to be libelous."
  • "The AC, which was filed over two months after the original release of the Ward Article and the Cuomo Prime Time interview, does not allege that any written request was served upon CNN, much less a request that identified the statements that Nunes may have considered defamatory."
  • Additionally, "the AC does not plead plausibly that Plaintiff suffered any special damages and thus fails to state a defamation claim upon which relief may be granted."

Context: Nunes' lawsuit said that CNN purposefully released a false report that claimed the California Republican — who was chair of the House Intelligence Committee at the time — met with Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin in 2018 to collect possibly damaging information on President Biden.

  • CNN said Vicky Ward, the author of the report, was using testimony by Lev Parnas, a businessman who worked with Rudy Giuliani, and that it was not reporting on the accuracy of Parnas' testimony but rather on what it alleged.
  • The network's attorneys added that Nunes declined to comment for the story prior to its publication and instead "waited until it appeared and then filed this suit seeking more than $435 million in damages — labeling CNN ‘the mother of fake news,'" per AP.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 mins ago - Economy & Business

Charted: GOP surged as Biden slumped

Expand chart
Reproduced from Gallup. (Independents were asked their party leaning.) Chart: Axios Visuals

Gallup polling found a huge shift in party preference over the course of 2021, from a 9-point Democratic advantage in the first quarter to a 5-point Republican edge in the fourth quarter.

Why it matters: It's the biggest swing in one calendar year for Gallup's 30 years of tracking.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
23 mins ago - Science

A new NASA astronaut corps for the next era in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NASA's next crewed missions to the Moon will need a larger, differently-trained and multi-skilled astronaut corps to deliver on the agency's ambitions.

Why it matters: NASA has plans to fly astronauts to the surface of the Moon in 2025 and ultimately establish a long-term presence there. That goal requires a robust corps with new, specialized training in what it takes to live and work on the Moon — and NASA needs to start planning now.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.