On Friday, a judge dismissed former President Donald Trump’s lawsuit against CNN, in which the former president argued that CNN’s coverage of the 2020 election compared him to Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. 

Judge Raag Singhal ruled that CNN’s use of the phrase “the Big Lie” in reference to Trump’s claims about the election being stolen did not meet the criteria for defamation.

“There is no question that the statements made by CNN meet the publication requirement for defamation under Florida law,” Singhal wrote. “The next question is whether the statements were false statements of fact. This is where Trump’s defamation claims fail.”

Trump claimed that “the use of the phrase ‘the Big Lie’ constitutes defamation” because it “create[s] a false and incendiary association between the Plaintiff and Hitler.”

Trump also made the argument that CNN’s use of the term “the Big Lie” is defamatory because it “has incited readers and viewers to hate, contempt, distrust, ridicule, and even fear” Trump, which caused “injury to the Plaintiff, the Plaintiff’s reputation, and the Plaintiff’s political career.” Because of this, “Trump claims that viewers and readers ‘understood that Plaintiff would be Hitler-like in any future political role.’”

Singhal evaluated five instances that Trump had argued the network defamed him, including written columns and on-air segments, which ranged from comparing the former president’s rhetoric with Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels to linking his efforts at narrative shaping to those used in “authoritarian states.”

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However, Singhal determined the critiques of Trump were “opinion, not actually false statements.” While he did offer harsh criticism of news outlets and readers, Singhal wrote that CNN, or any other organization which operated with “political motivation does not establish falsity.”

“Acknowledging that CNN acted with political enmity does not save this case; the Complaint alleges no false statements of fact,” he wrote. “Trump complains that CNN described his election challenges as ‘the Big Lie.’ Trump argues that ‘the Big Lie’ is a phrase attributed to Joseph Goebbels and that CNN’s use of the phrase wrongly links Trump with the Hitler regime in the public eye. This is a stacking of inferences that cannot support a finding of falsehood.”

Trump also argued that CNN failed to “similarly challenge Democrat politicians who complained about election integrity,” and this showed “evidence that Defendant is not reporting the news, but rather propagating its political views.”

Singhal did not agree with the arguments, saying that “CNN’s statements, while repugnant, were not, as a matter of law, defamatory,” before dismissing the case with prejudice.

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