A federal judge has dismissed a $475 million defamation lawsuit that former President Donald J. Trump filed against CNN, ruling that all of the CNN statements that Mr. Trump cited were opinion and, therefore, Mr. Trump could not sue for defamation.
The suit, which the former president filed in October in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla, alleged a “campaign of dissuasion in the form of libel and slander” that, Mr. Trump asserted, had escalated “as CNN fears the plaintiff will run for president in 2024.” The lawsuit said that the network’s use of the phrase “the big lie” in reference to Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election was tantamount to comparing him to Adolf Hitler and Nazism.
Judge Raag Singhal, who was nominated to the District Court by Mr. Trump in 2019, stated in dismissing the suit late Friday night that CNN’s use of the phrase in connection with Mr. Trump’s election challenges “does not give rise to a plausible inference that Trump advocates the persecution and genocide of Jews or any other group of people.”
The judge added: “The Court finds Nazi references in the political discourse (made by whichever ‘side’) to be odious and repugnant. But bad rhetoric is not defamation when it does not include false statements of fact.”
Mr. Singhal dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning Mr. Trump is not permitted to file another lawsuit under the same reasoning.
CNN declined to comment.
A spokesman for Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, Steven Cheung, said in a statement, “We agree with the highly respected judge’s findings that CNN’s statements about President Trump are repugnant,” adding, “CNN will be held responsible for their wrongful mistreatment of President Trump and his supporters.”
Mr. Trump has a history of filing lawsuits against news organizations, including The New York Times, for coverage he believes to be critical.
Nicole Sperling is a media and entertainment reporter, covering Hollywood and the burgeoning streaming business. She joined The Times in 2019. She previously worked for Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly and The Los Angeles Times. More about Nicole Sperling
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