During his first re-election fundraiser this week, Donald Trump joked with the crowd about the possibility of suing CNN over their retracted Russia story.  Republicans are trying to make attacking the press the staple of their 2018 campaigns – they’ve admitted that themselves – but it is never wise to attack outlets that reach millions of people throughout the day. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this. 


Earlier this weep Donald Trump held his technically very first reelection fundraiser for 2020 at one of his DC hotels where attendees were charged $35,000 a piece to attend. Well, during this fundraiser, Donald Trump got up there, made a little speech where he started once again attacking the media. This time specifically going after CNN for the fact that they recently had to retract, apologize and fire a couple of writers for publishing a story that turned out to not be 100% verifiable. I think that’s an important distinction to make here is that the story wasn’t able to be verified so they retracted it. They issued an apology. They took the right steps.

Trump won’t let it go and so during this fundraiser he escalated his attacks on the network and joked about, “Maybe we should sue them. Any lawyers in the audience? I think I’ve got a case. It would be fun.” Those were the words that Donald Trump used. “It would be fun. I think I’ve got a case.” Well, let me explain something to you, Donald Trump, about how American defamation, slander and libel laws work. They can go both ways. Making an untrue statement about a brand or a corporation is considered defamation in the United States and people are able to sue over that. I’m just going to throw this out there. Say I were to refer to a network like CNN and call them fake news. Tell millions of people that they are fake news. That is an example of defamation. That is an example of something that can get you sued. That is an example of something that you do on a weekly basis.

You know what, Trump? Go ahead. Go ahead with your lawsuit and sue CNN for having to retract the story and apologize and take all of the necessary steps to make it right again because I can promise you before you turn around you’re going to be slapped with a counter suit for continuously referring to this legitimate news source as fake news. There is a case there and it’s a case that even a first year lawyer could probably prove in front of a federal court. You have a big enough audience via Twitter and all your social media outlets where you call them a fake news outlet that they could prove defamation and slander without a doubt.

That’s my message for Republicans right now. You better watch out. When you start picking fights with media outlets, those things whose job it is everyday to go out and uncover things and report on things 24 hours a day, you better make sure you have no skeletons in your closet. You better make sure you’ve never said anything that can come back to bite you because I can promise you even with as horrible as the US media has become, they still have some good reporters out there who will dig that up and use it against you. It is never wise to pick a fight with a media outlet.

There’s an old saying, “You don’t pick a fight with somebody who buys ink by the barrel.” But, that’s exactly what Donald Trump is doing. He thinks that attacking the media is a winning strategy and the Republicans, to be honest, have admitted that that’s going to be their tactic for the 2018 elections. The only problem is that the public doesn’t share their hatred of the media, at least not to the same extent. The public as a whole does not believe that CNN is fake news. They believe that CNN screwed up as every single media outlet has done in their history, but they also understand that Donald Trump is probably the kind of guy who eventually these stories are going to prove to be true possibly, and that’s why they’re putting more stock into the corporate media at this point than they are in Donald Trump. Go ahead with your lawsuit if you think you’ve got a case because I would love to see the counter suit immediately filed by CNN.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine and a contributing writer at DeSmogBlog.com. He is the co-host / guest host for Ring of Fire Radio. His writings have appeared on Alternet, Truthout, and The Huffington Post. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009. Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced