It appears former President Donald Trump has made good on his threat to sue longtime media nemesis CNN.
Trump filed a $475 million defamation lawsuit against the network Monday in Florida federal court, claiming CNN has created a campaign of libel and slander against him as of late, because it fears he’ll run for re-election in 2024.
In addition to $475 million in punitive damages, Trump is asking for $75,000 in compensatory damages.
The ex-president threatened to sue CNN back in late July in a 282-page letter, demanding the network retract or apologize for reporting “defamatory statements.”
The lawsuit claims CNN has falsely labeled Trump as an “insurrectionist,” a “dog whistler to white supremacists,” a “racist,” a “Russian lackey” and compared him to Hitler. The lawsuit claims the comparison of Trump to “arguably the most heinous figure in modern history” is evidence that CNN had “actual malice” toward him—which is the minimum required threshold for proving defamation against a public figure.
45. Being likened to Hitler is historically defamation per se as such a comparison tends to subject the target—and has subjected the Plaintiff—to hatred, contempt, distrust, ridicule and even fear; the comparison has had an adverse impact on the Plaintiff’s reputation and political career.
46. When a public official, or political candidate, is likened to Hitler, it is defamation per se as the statement imputes a characteristic or condition incompatible with the proper exercise of that public office.
The lawsuit cites a CNN special report called The Fight to Save Democracy hosted by Fareed Zakaria that aired on Jan. 9, 2022, about a year after Jan. 6 insurrection. The suit claims the special went too far because “a focal point of the report is a discussion of the ascendancy of Hitler and comparisons to the plaintiff, interspersing discussion of Hitler and Nazi Germany with footage of the plaintiff.”
However, Zakaria said in the special report (and something that was noted in the complaint): “Let’s be very clear. Donald Trump is not Adolf Hitler.”
Other CNN personalities who are cited in the complaint as defaming Trump on-air and online include Jim Acosta, Chris Cillizza, former anchor Brian Stelter and many others.
The case has been assigned to Trump-appointed Judge Raaj Singhal, in the Southern District of Florida (Fort Lauderdale).
CNN did not comment as of publication time.
The former president then put out the following statement hours after the lawsuit was filed: