A federal judge in Florida on Friday dismissed a $475 million defamation lawsuit former President Donald Trump brought against CNN that accused the network of defaming him by using the phrase “the big lie” and allegedly comparing him to Adolf Hitler.
District Judge Raag Singhal, a 2019 appointee of Trump’s, said that use of the phrase or similar statements are opinion that don’t meet the standard for defamation.
“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. No reasonable viewer could (or should) plausibly make that reference,” Singhal wrote.
“Being “Hitler-like” is not a verifiable statement of fact that would support a defamation claim,” Singhal added.
The lawsuit is one of many Trump has filed against media outlets, including CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post, objecting to coverage during his presidency and in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election he lost to Joe Biden.
Trump had accused CNN of a “campaign of dissuasion in the form of libel and slander” and of creating a “false and incendiary association” between him and Hitler.
“Like Trump and CNN personalities … the Court finds Nazi references in the political discourse (made by whichever ‘side’) to be odious and repugnant,” Singhal wrote. “But bad rhetoric is not defamation when it does not include false statements of fact.”
Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement Saturday: “We agree with the highly respected judge’s findings that CNN’s statements about President Trump are repugnant.”
CNN declined to comment on the decision.
This story has been updated with additional information.