Quantcast
Connect with us

Trump hasn’t sued a newspaper for libel in decades, records show

Published

on

Donald Trump hasn’t sued a newspaper for libel in three decades, despite the Republican presidential nominee repeatedly threatening to do so over the course of his business career, according to databases of state and federal court records.

A lawyer for the New York real estate developer demanded on Wednesday the New York Times retract a story in which two women accused Trump of inappropriately touching them. If the newspaper did not comply, Trump, who says the allegations are fabricated, would “pursue all available actions and remedies,” the lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, said in a letter.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump said at a rally on Thursday he was preparing a lawsuit.

An attorney for the Times, David McCraw, said the story was of national importance and the paper would “welcome the opportunity” to defend it in court.

Over the years, media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, the Village Voice, the New York Post and Fortune Magazine have reported receiving similar threats from Trump or his representatives in advance of unflattering articles.

However, Trump rarely makes good on those threats, according to a Reuters review of court dockets in the database of online legal research service Westlaw, a unit of Thomson Reuters.

ADVERTISEMENT

The last time he sued a news organization for libel was apparently in 1984. Trump filed the case after the Chicago Tribune’s architecture critic called his proposed 150-story Manhattan skyscraper an “atrocious, ugly monstrosity.”

In 1985, a federal judge in Manhattan dismissed the suit, ruling the critic had a First Amendment right to express his opinion. The skyscraper was never built.

In the 32 years since Trump brought that suit, he has not taken similar action against another news organization, although he or his companies have sued at least three individuals and a book publisher. He was successful in one of those cases.

ADVERTISEMENT

Book author and former New York Times reporter Timothy O’Brien defeated a Trump libel lawsuit in 2011, after Trump underwent a grueling deposition by O’Brien’s lawyers.

Trump’s suit against O’Brien, which also named O’Brien’s publisher, Time Warner Book Group, alleged the author deliberately underestimated the businessman’s net worth. A New Jersey state judge found in 2009 that Trump had not established O’Brien’s actual malice.

“OPENING UP OUR LIBEL LAWS”

ADVERTISEMENT

Former Miss Universe contestant Sheena Monnin was hit with a $5 million default judgment after she failed to appear for arbitration in a case in which Trump claimed she falsely denigrated the pageant as “rigged.” The arbitration judgment was upheld by a federal judge in Manhattan in 2013. The court record indicates the judgment was paid in 2014.

The same year, a San Diego federal judge ruled Tarla Makaeff, who was lead plaintiff in a class action against Trump University, did not act with malice when she said in letters to her bank and the Better Business Bureau that Trump University engaged in fraudulent business practices. The judge, Gonzalo Curiel, dismissed Trump’s defamation claim.

Trump’s attorneys, as well as a spokeswoman for his campaign, did not respond to requests for comment on his libel litigation record, including requests for information on any suits the Reuters docket search may have missed.

ADVERTISEMENT

U.S. courts have routinely deemed Trump a public figure in libel lawsuits. That means he has to show not only that the story is false, but also that the media outlet knew that it was false and published it in “reckless disregard” for the truth.

If Trump were a private person, he would have to show the paper was negligent in failing to learn the allegations were false, which is a lower standard of proof.

The New York Times attorney, David McCraw, wrote that the paper carefully vetted the allegations in the story.

ADVERTISEMENT

CHANGING LAWS NOT EASY

Any Trump claim will be difficult because Trump’s accusers were on the record, said Jane Kirtley, a media law expert at University of Minnesota Law School. That would bolster the newspaper’s argument that it didn’t act recklessly in publishing their accounts.

Trump has vowed to “open up our libel laws,” if he wins the presidency on Nov. 8., to make it easier to sue news organizations. In reality, he would not be able to unilaterally change the laws because they are generally governed by individual states and court precedents.

ADVERTISEMENT

Court records show that Trump or his businesses have themselves been sued several times for libel or defamation. Most of those suits, including a complaint by a former tenant of a Trump condominium and another by a former dealer at a Trump casino in Indiana, were dismissed.

One defamation suit against Trump survived dismissal, however. Stock analyst Marvin Roffman sued Trump for $2 million in federal court in Philadelphia in 1990, claiming he was fired from his job after publicly predicting the failure of the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City.

Roffman alleged Trump defamed him in critical statements to numerous newspapers and magazines. After a federal judge refused to toss the case, the Trump Organization settled in 1991.

ADVERTISEMENT

An attorney for Roffman declined to comment.

(Reporting by Alison Frankel in New York and Dan Levine in San Francisco; Editing by Amy Stevens and Ross Colvin)

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump approves of North Korea missile tests: ‘I have no problem’ because they’re just ‘short-range missiles’

Published

on

On Thursday, in conversation with reporters, President Donald Trump said that he had 'no problem' with North Korea's new round of missile tests.

"Short-range missiles, we never made an agreement on that," said Trump. "I have no problem, we'll see what happens, but these are short-range missiles. They're very standard."

The thought that short-range missiles would still be capable of hitting our allies in the region, like South Korea and Japan, does not seem to have occurred to him.

Watch below:

Trump says he has "no problem" with North Korea testing missiles because they are just "short-range missiles" that are "very standard." pic.twitter.com/fdKtQ6yrBE

Continue Reading

Elections 2016

Russian Twitter propaganda predicted 2016 US election polls

Published

on

When Robert Mueller completed his long-awaited investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, he left many questions unanswered.

But one conclusion was unequivocal: Russia unleashed an extensive campaign of fake news and disinformation on social media with the aim of distorting U.S. public opinion, sowing discord and swinging the election in favor of the Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Continue Reading
 

Elections 2016

Beto O’Rourke calls for a ‘war tax’ in release of health care plan for veterans

Published

on

The Democratic presidential candidate uses his eighth policy announcement to focus on an area that he prioritized in Congress.

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke on Monday morning released a plan to improve the lives of veterans, returning to an area of priority during his time in the U.S. House for his latest 2020 policy rollout.

In keeping with measures he supported in Congress, the plan calls for a "responsible end" to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — reinvesting $1 out of every $2 saved in veterans programs — and the creation of a Veterans Health Care Trust Fund for each future war. The fund would be paid for by a "war tax" on households without service members or veterans.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image