An N.Y. Supreme Court judge ruled that Donald Trump’s lawsuit against The New York Times had no legal merit. Furthermore, according to the Washington Post, he ordered the ex-president “to pay all attorney’s fees and other legal expenses and associated costs.”
Freedom of speech prevailed when Trump’s was dismissed. On Wednesday, May 3, 2023, N.Y. Supreme Court Justice Robert Reed declared that Donald Trump’s suit failed due to constitutional law. The First Amendment protects journalists’ rights to conduct investigations and report findings.
Furthermore, Justice Reed said: “Courts have long recognized that reporters are entitled to engage in legal and ordinary newsgathering activities without fear of tort liability.”
The $100 million lawsuit filed in 2021 alleged The New York Times sought out Mary Trump, the former president’s estranged and outspoken niece. According to the lawsuit, the newspaper persuaded her to join their “insidious plot” to acquire her uncle’s tax returns. Her interaction with the investigative reporters supposedly violated a 2001 family confidentiality agreement.
Nonetheless, the ex-president’s niece assisted three New York Times journalists with the information needed for the newspaper’s 2018 Pulitzer-winning stories. The fact-based reporting relied on Mary Trump’s testimony to cast doubts on her uncle’s claims that he was a self-made millionaire. Instead, these stories revealed he inherited hundreds of millions using questionable tax schemes and his history of tax avoidance.
Trump’s Disdain of The New York Times and Other News Sources
Despite Trump’s assertions, the Times did not have a personal vendetta against him. Instead, the journalists sought his tax records because he refused to disclose them to the American public.
Moreover, Trump’s administration made excuses and used “alternative facts” to explain why his tax documents would not be released.
In fact, during Trump’s first and second presidential campaigns and his four years as the Commander in Chief, he constantly obfuscated the truth.
His publicity-demanding actions and words gave The New York Times and other news sources plenty to report. But, in return, Trump repeatedly disputed stories that wrote his hate-filled rhetoric.
As a result, in December 2018, the Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler introduced a new dishonesty rating system — “Bottomless Pinocchio” — to track Trump’s repeated false claims. As of Jan. 20, 2021, the fact-checkers database showed the twice-impeached former president made over 30,000 false or misleading claims.
In 2020, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) denounced the Trump administration’s prosecution of news sources like The New York Times. The organization said the ex-president “interfered in the business of media owners, harassed journalists crossing U.S. borders, and empowered foreign leaders to restrict their own media.” However, CPJ added, “Trump’s most effective ploy to destroy the credibility of the press, dangerously undermining the truth and consensus even as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to kill tens of thousands of Americans.” Tragically, the virus took over 400,000 lives by the end of Trump’s presidency.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
The Guardian: US judge throws out Donald Trump’s Lawsuit against New York Times
The Washington Post: Judge throws out Trump lawsuit against New York Times; by Herb Scribner
The Hill: Washington Post fact-checker introduces ‘Bottomless Pinocchio’ rating to call Trump on repeated false claims; by Avery Anapol