One of Donald Trump’s lawyers just successfully got a libel lawsuit against the US president-elect thrown out of court. And you’re never going to believe how he did it. The lawyer successfully argued that Trump’s potentially libellous tweets were not only opinion, but that Twitter is merely “hyperbolic”.
President-elect Donald Trump just screaming into the void for the next four year like the rest of us (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Yes, the next President of the United States has dodged a libel lawsuit on perfectly reasonable grounds. But when you step back for a moment, you remember that not only has Donald Trump called for stronger libel laws — you also realise that the man who could literally start a war with his tweets just said that his tweets shouldn’t be taken too literally.
We’re not going to survive the next four years, are we?
Political strategist Cheryl Jacobus filed the libel lawsuit after Trump called her a “major loser” with “zero credibility” and insisted that she had begged him for a job. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Trump was apparently triggered by Jacobus appearing on CNN in January and February of 2016, saying that she thought it was unlikely that he’d be completely self-funding his campaign. She also questioned why Trump was going after Megyn Kelly.
In a now-deleted tweet, Trump said that his campaign denied her a job and “she went hostile”. And in true Trumpian fashion, he finishes by calling her “a real dummy!”
President-elect Donald Trump’s now-deleted tweet calling political strategist Cheryl Jacobus a “real dummy” who had begged for a job (Twitter)
Jacobus even tweeted her own screenshots of messages she received from Trump’s campaign, proving that she was the one who was approached.
Facebook messages from Jim Dornan to Cheryl Jacobus showing that the Trump campaign had wanted to hire her as a “top notch communications director”
But Trump didn’t give up. Trump’s tweet from 6 February 2016 is still live:
President-elect Donald Trump’s tweet saying that political strategist Cheryl Jacobus had begged for a job (Twitter)
Jacobus finally sued for $US4 million ($5 million), claiming that Trump had in fact offered her a job on multiple occasions and that she had turned him down. But today the judge in the case threw it out, claiming that the tweets were indeed hyperbolic.
“Trump’s characterization of plaintiff as having ‘begged’ for a job is reasonably viewed as a loose, figurative, and hyperbolic reference to plaintiff’s state of mind and is therefore, not susceptible of objective verification,” the New York judge Barbara Jaffe wrote.
“To the extent that the word ‘begged’ can be proven to be a false representation of plaintiff’s interest in the position, the defensive tone of the tweet, having followed plaintiff’s negative commentary about Trump, signals to readers that plaintiff and Trump were engaged in a petty quarrel,” she continued.
And while Jaffe’s interpretation is probably a solid read of the First Amendment, it really does highlight the hypocrisy of Donald J. Trump and his litigious band of whiners. The US doesn’t want courts to stifle free speech, but libel laws seem rather antiquated if “Trump’s schoolyard type squabble” (her words) means the most powerful person in the world can knowingly lie without consequences.
Jaffe’s conclusions say it all: “Indeed, to some, truth itself has been lost in the cacophony of online and Twitter verbiage to such a degree that it seems to roll of the national consciousness like water off a duck’s back.”