Trump's war on media: Sues New York Times over a 2019 op-ed on Russia

  • Trump's re-election campaign filed a defamation lawsuit against New York Times

  • Over a March 2019 opinion piece on Trump-Russia collusion during elections

US President Donald Trump's re-election campaign said on Wednesday (Feb. 26) that it's filing a libel lawsuit against New York Times over a 2019 opinion piece by its former executive editor, Max Frankel. The newspaper, referred to as "Fake News" by the President on several occasions, said it had not been served with the suit and learned about it through media reports.

Trump campaign sues New York Times

Donald Trump
Instagram grab/ Donald Trump

The lawsuit was filed in the New York State Supreme Court, the state's trial-level court, on Tuesday. The lawsuit was filed to hold the newspaper "accountable for intentionally publishing false statements against President Trump's campaign", his campaign said in a statement, Reuters reported.

In the lawsuit, Trump's campaign accused the the newspaper of "extreme bias against and animosity toward the campaign" and cited the newspaper's "exuberance to improperly influence the presidential election in November 2020".

New York Times responds

In a statement, a New York Times spokesperson said, "The Trump Campaign has turned to the courts to try to punish an opinion writer for having an opinion they find unacceptable. Fortunately, the law protects the right of Americans to express their judgments and conclusions, especially about events of public importance. We look forward to vindicating that right in this case".

What next?

In a 1964 case titled, New York Times v. Sullivan, the court ruled that the US Constitution's First Amendment grants freedom of press, which includes statements which are false, to be published as long as the publication was not done with "actual malice".

Hence, it's doubtful whether the case will move forward. On its part, the lawsuit by Trump campaign accused the newspaper of a "malicious motive" and "reckless disregard for the truth".

Lawsuit's political implications

Trump's hostility toward press often elicits massive support among his supporters. His Twitter page, as well as his press conferences are filled with his onslaught against media often. Trump referring them as "fake news" and "the enemy of the American people" usually draws applause from his conservative political base. Now that, he's seeking re-election in the 2020 Presidential elections, the lawsuit would garner more importance.