Donald Trump is still very angry over the erroneous reporting about the financial losses at his Twitter clone, Truth Social, and in a new lawsuit filed Monday, the ex-president claimed that the reports were actually a vast media conspiracy involving “no less than 20 major media outlets.”
The lawsuit comes following reports this month that Truth had lost $73 million in 2023. That figure turned out to be incorrect; the company has actually lost $31 million.
It’s not clear how the error occurred or became so widespread. The initial $73 million figure was attributed to a securities filing by Digital World Acquisition Corp, which is attempting to merge with Truth Social. Within 24 hours of those reports, the relevant articles were updated to reflect the correct amount. While updated articles contained acknowledgement of the error, none explained where the initial amount came from.
The lawsuit, filed in Sarasota County, Florida on behalf of Trump Media & Technology Group, names several major news outlets, alongside more niche finance, politics or left-leaning websites as plaintiffs. Among them are MSNBC, Newsweek, CNBC, Reuters, The Daily Beast, the Miami Herald and its executive editor Alex Mena, Mediatie, The Hill, The New York Daily News, the Daily Mail, Axios, The Hollywood Reporter, Salon, Deadline, and the Miami Herald.
The lawsuit alleges that the $73 million figure “was an utter fabrication. Each defendant, in apparent coordination, reported the exact same false number within approximately 24 hours of one another, each citing to a public Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filing, in which the mystery $73 million loss appears nowhere.”
The lawsuit claims this was “a coordinated effort” to harm the reputation of Trump Media & Technology Group and to “torpedo” the merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp.
As evidence of this purported conspiracy, the the suit calls out the similarity of the headlines about the losses, and that the articles about them were updated and corrected, but not taken down.
The lawsuit alleges defamation and injurious falsehood (defined as when falsehoods are deployed specifically to cause harm). Trump is demanding a jury trial, and seeks punitive payment of $1.5 billion, a gag order forcing the deletion of all articles about the losses, and unspecified other damages.
On the face of it, the lawsuit might conflict with Florida’s anti-SLAPP statutes, which according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, “prohibits lawsuits brought against individuals for exercising their right of free speech in connection with a public issue or their rights to peacefully assemble.” That statute expressly defines “free speech” to include journalism.
But, while TMTG justifies filing the lawsuit in Florida on the grounds that the state is “where it does business,” doing so no doubt calls to mind the lawsuit brought against Gawker Media by Terry Bollea — better known as the wrestler Hulk Hogan — which ended up destroying that company in 2016. The judgment in that case was also delivered by a jury.
But Gawker wasn’t destroyed simply because it lost the initial trial. Florida law empowers judges to require that anyone seeking to appeal a lawsuit judgment must put the entire amount of awarded damages into an escrow account before they can appeal. Gawker’s owners were unable to raise the $150 million Bollea was awarded and were forced to declare bankruptcy and sell the company’s assets.
It’s unclear if Trump is seeking to destroy his perceived media enemies the same way billionaire investor Peter Thiel was reported to have done by bankrolling Bollea’s lawsuit. But likely doing so over erroneous reporting over financial records is a harder lift than over the nonconsensual sex tape at the center of the Gawker lawsuit.
You can download a copy of the full lawsuit here.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.