Trump Lawsuit Against TV Station Dismissed
Campaign’s claim of defamation for ad run by Rhinelander TV station dismissed by federal court.
A lawsuit filed by President Donald Trump‘s campaign against a Northwoods TV station has been dismissed in federal court.
The Trump campaign in April sued the Rhinelander-based WJFW-TV over an ad that juxtaposed clips of Trump’s statements about the coronavirus in January and February with a graph showing the rising case count in the United States. The ad was produced by the liberal advocacy group Priorities USA, but the Trump campaign initially targeted WJFW-TV in the lawsuit. The station’s owner, Rockfleet Communications, is a small company that also owns stations in Bangor, Maine.
The case was initially filed in Price County Circuit Court and was moved to federal court in late April.
Legal experts had said it was unlikely the campaign would be able to prove defamation. The Trump campaign contended the advertisement’s editing of Trump’s audio was misleading.
In July, attorney Charles Tobin told WPR the Trump campaign was engaged in a “SLAPP lawsuit,” an acronym for “strategic lawsuit against public participation.”
“It’s a political case,” Tobin said then. “It’s meant to slap down participation in public debate … The Trump campaign is trying to chill the rights of broadcasters.”
In a statement Friday on the lawsuit’s dismissal, the chair of Priorities USA, Guy Cecil, said, “Priorities stood strong against the Trump campaign’s onslaught of baseless legal actions and we have successfully rebuffed Donald Trump’s effort to censor the truth about his failed leadership.”
After the campaign initially sent cease and desist letters to TV stations in March, Priorities USA expanded its purchase of the ad to the swing state of Arizona. Both Wisconsin and Arizona voted for Democrat Joe Biden in the election, according to unofficial results.
Trump Campaign Lawsuit Against Northwoods TV Station Dismissed was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
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