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Judge dismisses Trump’s defamation lawsuit against CNN

A federal judge in Florida has thrown out former President Trump’s defamation lawsuit against CNN, in which the former president alleged that the network’s use of the term “the Big Lie” associates him with Hitler.

The lawsuit cites five times when CNN commentators and writers used “the Big Lie” to refer to Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent and stolen. The term is generally associated with the Nazis, and the origin of the term is associated with Adolf Hitler’s accusations of wrongdoing against Jewish people.

In dismissing the case on Friday, the judge ruled that the term’s use is opinion, not fact, and therefore not liable under defamation law.

“Trump complains that CNN described his election challenges as ‘the Big Lie.’ Trump argues that ‘the Big Lie’ is a phrase attributed to Nazi Party politician 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,” Judge Raag Singhal wrote.

Singhal also wrote that defamation is significantly more difficult to commit against public figures, especially those as prominent as former presidents.

Additionally, he said that just the use of the term “the Big Lie” does not inherently connect Trump to Nazis.

“CNN’s use of the phrase ‘the Big Lie’ in connection with 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 decision reads. 

“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.”

The exact origin of the term is disputed, but it is generally attributed to either Hitler or Goebbels.

It is most closely associated with the quote, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it,” often attributed to Goebbels.

The suit cited uses of the term by CNN host Jake Tapper, former commentator Chris Cillizza, and writer Ruth Ben-Ghiat.

Trump initially requested a $475 million judgment against the company.

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