Former President Donald Trump won a major First Amendment victory in court after a New York judge threw out a case brought against both Trump and CarpeDonktum, a popular social media personality. The suit was over a meme that criticized legacy media with the label “fake news.”
According to NY Supreme Court Judge Benjamin Cohen, the image created by CarbeDonktum, (whose real name is Logan Cook) and retweeted by Trump, met that standards of “newsworthy” and also clearly fell well within the realm of satire.
Cook found original footage of a black toddler being chased by a white toddler. He then added the label “breaking news” to the image, with a descriptive caption explaining: “terrified toddler… runs from racist baby… racist baby [likely] a Trump voter.”
The video then shows “what actually happened” as the toddlers soon embrace. The video warns that “America is not the problem… fakes news is.” Then telling the audience that “only you can prevent fake news dumpster fires.”
Twitter was quick to slap the meme with a “manipulated video” label, and later on the family of the toddlers filed suit against Trump and Cook for “exploitation of the childrens’ image” which allegedly resulted in “intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.”
Cohen, in writing his decision, said that “the video was newsworthy” because the term newsworthy includes not just “descriptions of actual events,” but also includes information that pertains to “political happenings, social trends… subject[s] of public interest.”
Cohen added how it was commonly understood that one of Trump’s “principal tactics” was to attack mainstream media for being “purveyors of ‘fake news'” including claims that mainstream media “exaggerates… racial division in this country.” Cohen decided that the video, speaking in reference to ‘fake news’ as well as race relations make it “clearly newsworthy.” He therefore declared that “since the video is… satire… it is not actionable.”
Cohen did not honor Trump’s request that his legal fees be covered for the “frivolous” suit, as Cohen said that the plaintiffs brought forward the case on a “good faith basis,” and therefore shouldn’t be penalized.
Author: Gerald Cross