[UPDATED] (Losing) Trump Campaign Sued TV Network For Airing President’s Words In Ad
This article has been updated to reflect changes previously referencing the activist group Project Veritas and these edits in no way affect the original facts. There is no intention of mischaracterizing Project Veritas, and the language Project Veritas found to be offensive has been removed.
What exactly lost the presidential election for Donald Trump? There’s a lot of credit, or blame, to spread around. In Georgia, Stacy Abrams has been credited for getting voters registered, so that the Democratic turnout flipped the state blue. The Lincoln Project has claimed some credit for helping Republicans see that it’s acceptable to vote against Trump. Then there are Trump’s own actions — such as on COVID-19.
While a lot of Trump’s more devoted followers have accepted his words, decided that COVID-19 isn’t really so serious, and continue to support him, others are aware of the risk, and unhappy at the president downplaying it. Particularly some of those who were already high-risk, and those who lost loved ones to the disease, have said they found his words irresponsible.
That’s exactly what the creators of one ad counted on — and perhaps why Donald Trump’s campaign sued a small television network in Wisconsin for airing it.
Sam Stein at @DailyBeast reports that the Trump campaign has filed a lawsuit against WJFW-NBC of Rhinelander, Wisconsin for airing this ad.
Let's make it go viral again. pic.twitter.com/DKlc7wao9Y
— Matt Rogers 🗳 (@Politidope) April 13, 2020
The Trump campaign released a statement about the lawsuit in April, claiming that the ad used ‘manipulated audio’ and linking to several fact-checkers who all agree that Trump never said, explicitly, that COVID-19 itself is a hoax. Instead, he linked the word ‘hoax’ to those warning about the risks, claiming they were politicizing COVID-19 (which has now killed nearly a quarter-million people in the U.S.) as an attack against him.
The PAC, Priorities USA, that created the ad was later added to the lawsuit, according to Law360, which also notes that the Trump campaign has separately sued the New York Times over an opinion piece.
While Trump never said, “coronavirus is their new hoax” directly in a single sentence, he’s been caught on tape admitting that he downplayed the virus and its dangers, and can be seen in White House transcripts pretending the virus isn’t so serious — comparing it to the flu, saying it will just “disappear,” and boasting of his own recovery (with healthcare options that most of America don’t have).