Donald Trump decries Nazi comparisons while 'adopting' their 'authoritarian' tactics: journalist

Donald Trump decries Nazi comparisons while 'adopting' their 'authoritarian' tactics: journalist
Image via Gage Skidmore.

Since leaving the White House on January 20, 2021, former President Donald Trump hasn’t grown any less contemptuous of the mainstream media. Trump still accuses major media outlets of pushing “fake news” and hasn’t backed down from his claim that the press is “the enemy of the people.” And Trump is even critical of right-wing Fox News at times.

Trump has filed a defamation lawsuit against CNN. The Daily Beast’s Jose Pagliery, covering the lawsuit in an article published on January 10, emphasizes that one of the things Trump really hates is being compared to Nazis — which Pagliery finds ironic in light of the fact that he has been arguing in favor of rolling back constitutional protections for journalists.

Tweeting his article on January 10, Pagliery notes, “The irony here is appalling. In his lawsuit against CNN for comparing him to Hitler, Trump argues that now is the ‘perfect’ time to peel back First Amendment protections for American journalists.”

READ MORE: 'Not worth the paper it's printed on': Experts torch Donald Trump's lawsuit against CNN

Trump, Pagliery reports in his Daily Beast article, is “asking courts to review legal precedent established in a 1964 case called New York Times v. Sullivan.”

“Former President Donald Trump is doubling down on his ‘I am not Hitler’ defamation lawsuit against CNN by adopting the Nazi strategy of attacking journalists as liars, with court papers claiming — without irony — that ‘Americans are split when asked if the media is actually an enemy of democracy,’” Pagliery explains. “Since October, Trump has been waging war against the Cable News Network over the way it has increasingly drawn comparisons between his Make America Great Again movement and the rise of the Nazis in 1930s Germany.”

In a December 30, 2022 filing, Trump’s attorneys wrote, “The sustained defamation of falsely linking President Trump to Nazis provides a perfect vehicle for Supreme Court reexamination of Sullivan.”

In the unanimous New York Times v. Sullivan decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1964, Chief Justice Earl Warren (a Republican appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower) and his colleagues were in agreement on what does and doesn’t constitute defamation. According to the Sullivan ruling, defamation must involve “actual malice.”

READ MORE: 'It’s garbage': Media critic tears apart Donald Trump’s defamation lawsuit against CNN

Sloppy reporting or harsh commentary doesn’t fit the Sullivan definition of defamation; the plaintiff has to show actual malice, which is what Trump and his lawyers need to prove in the lawsuit against CNN. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin sued the New York Times for defamation, but she lost the case because she was unable to show “actual malice” on the Times’ part.

In the Beast, Pagliery points out that during the 1930s in Germany, Adolf Hitler and his Nazi allies showed an intense hatred of journalists — who are also one of Trump’s favorite targets.

“The former president’s disgust for journalists isn’t new,” Pagliery points out. “For years, he has attacked reporters as the ‘enemy of the people.’ And political scientists who study authoritarianism have noted how his favorite insult against reporters — calling them ‘fake news’ — is a near-direct translation of Lügenpresse, the derogatory term used by Nazis against who they called the ‘lying press’…. In the CNN lawsuit, his lawyers insist that ‘this case does not attack Constitutional principles or thwart legitimate political discourse,’ even as their client, three weeks earlier, publicly called for tearing up the U.S. Constitution.”

The reporter continues, “Trump, still fuming over his loss to President Joe Biden, on December 4 called for a new election in a Truth Social post that demanded ‘termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.’ The statement was not disavowed by Republicans, who largely plan to vote for whoever wins the Republican nomination for president —even if it turns out to be Trump.”

Pagliery adds, “Trump, who tried to misuse the Justice Department and frivolous lawsuits to remain in power after losing reelection in 2020 and directed insurrectionists to march on Congress in 2021, is actively seeking a return to the White House in 2024. He is under federal investigation for his anti-democratic campaign of fraud and for inciting the January 6 Capitol attack.”

Trump’s lawsuit, according to Pagliery, slams CNN “for repeatedly drawing comparisons between Trump’s right-wing, nationalist, and anti-democratic MAGA movement and Adolf Hitler’s right-wing, nationalist, and anti-democratic Nazi Party.”

“Journalists far and wide have indeed drawn parallels to Hitler’s authoritarianism and the threat to the future of American democracy posed by Trump’s unquenchable thirst for power,” Pagliery writes. “But when journalists do it, they tend to spell Hitler’s name correctly. In their filing, Trump’s lawyers repeatedly referred to ‘Adolph’ Hitler.”

READ MORE: Trump calls most major news polls 'fake' after they show GOP voters prefer Ron DeSantis

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