CNN has reportedly dismissed as a nuisance a lawsuit that lawyers for President Donald Trump and his re-election campaign have threatened to file. But what are the president’s prospects for legal success?
Trump’s lawyers sent a letter to CNN threatening a lawsuit and seeking “substantial damages,” citing a Project Veritas video series purporting to show CNN employees admitting bias against the president and saying WarnerMedia news and sports chairman and CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker had a vendetta against Trump, with whom Zucker worked with as an entertainment exec on Trump’s The Apprentice. The alleged vendetta has led to negative coverage and a focus on impeachment, according to the suit.
One of Project Veritas’s primary goals is to dig up evidence of anti-conservative bias, or try to create it via hidden camera videos.
The News Media Alliance, which represents news operations nationwide, declined to weigh in on its merit. But a veteran First Amendment attorney had plenty to say on background about the Trump administration’s uphill battle — in which victory in court might not be the real goal.
While a misstatement of fact designed to injure someone’s reputation is a ground for libel, as the administration is alleging, it has to be done with “reckless disregard” for the truth when a public figure is involved. If there is any basis for the statement, then it is probably not reckless, the attorney said. The misstatement has to be done with something more than negligence.
If the court does not dismiss the suit out of hand — which is where most such cases die — pushing CNN through the “meat grinder” of a trial, even with a CNN victory, would be a win for Trump, the attorney said. “The process is the punishment.”
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