Trump
© US President Donald Trump, Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
US President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump's disdain for CNN is well documented. However, a series of undercover interviews with network employees who spilled the beans on bias in the newsroom has Trump's attorneys threatening legal action.

"Fake," "Phony," and "dead as a doornail" are just a small selection of the often-colorful words used by Trump to describe CNN and its overwhelmingly negative coverage of his presidency. However, Trump's re-election campaign has taken the next step and threatened to sue the network for its apparent bias, according to a letter sent to network president Jeff Zucker and general counsel David Vigilante.


The letter, from attorney Charles Harder, demands that CNN make "a substantial payment of damages" to the Trump campaign and take other "appropriate measures" to compensate the president's team. CNN, the letter claims, has broken the law by presenting its hosts to the public as "journalists," and violated the Society of Professional Journalists' code of ethics.

As evidence of bias, the document outlines recent testimony from supposed CNN employees, recorded in a hidden-camera operation by conservative media group Project Veritas. These employees claimed that Zucker instructs his team to chase negative stories on Trump based on a personal feud between himself and the president, dating back to Trump's reality TV days.

"Everything is all Trump all the time now," CNN media coordinator Christian Sierra told Project Veritas. "There's just nothing we can do if Zucker wants impeachment every single day to be the top story... He wants impeachment above all else."

In another recording, field production supervisor Gerald Sisnette told a Project Veritas 'insider' that "The only way this will go away is when he (Trump) dies. Hopefully soon."


"The aforementioned examples are merely the tip of the iceberg," Harder's letter continued, referring to Project Veritas' promise to release more tapes in the coming days. CNN's higher-ups seem untroubled though. A network spokesperson described Harding's letter as "nothing more than a desperate PR stunt" that "doesn't merit a response."

Accusations of anti-Trump bias have been thrown at the mainstream media since Trump first announced his campaign, and documented by researchers. Project Veritas' use of 'gotcha'-style reporting to push back against this bias has made the outfit a target of liberal rage, with mainstream journalists accusing the outfit of over-editing video footage to sting their colleagues.

Even as news broke of the lawsuit, this animosity played out on Twitter, with writer and one-time journalist Nick Pappas retracting a tweet accusing Project Veritas chief James O'Keefe of settling a defamation suit out of court, and replacing it with the more succinct "James O'Keefe is a piece of shit."


Harder too has a history of tussles with the media, and was the lawyer who brought down left-wing gossip site Gawker in 2016 with a $100 million invasion of privacy suit from former wrestler Hulk Hogan.

When Harder filed the suit in 2012, nobody expected the Beverly Hills lawyer to succeed. Though a repeat of that performance is unlikely, CNN may want to sit up and take note.