Media top headlines September 22
In media news today, reporters slam the White House for shouting down questions from the press pool, MSNBC’s Joy Reid calls the focus on the Gabby Petito case ‘missing White woman syndrome,’ and Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar argues with CNN anchor over border patrol agents on horseback
Former President Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit Tuesday against The New York Times and his niece, Mary Trump, accusing them of “tortiously breaching and/or interfering with his contractual rights and otherwise maliciously conspiring against him” for a 2018 report on his taxes.
“The defendants engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records which they exploited for their own benefit and utilized as a means of falsely legitimizing their publicized works. The defendants’ actions were motivated by a personal vendetta and their desire to gain fame, notoriety, acclaim and a financial windfall and were further intended to advance their political agenda,” the suit filed in New York’s Dutchess County states.
Trump is demanding no less than $100 million in damages.
The suit also names as defendants Times reporters David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner, who collectively earned a Pulitzer Prize in 2019 for their “explanatory reporting” into Trump’s wealth based on tax documents they obtained.
The former president alleges the trio of journalists were “in the middle of an extensive crusade to obtain” his “confidential tax records” and that Mary Trump was convinced to “smuggle the records out of her attorney’s office and turn them over” to the paper.
The suit claims Mary Trump had access to “more than 40,000 pages of highly sensitive, proprietary, private and confidential documents, including, but not limited to, financial documents, accountings, tax records, income tax returns, bank statements, legal documents and other related documents” pertaining to the former president as a result of discovery during litigation related to the will of Mary Anne Trump, the mother of Donald Trump and grandmother of Mary Trump. The suit claims the documents were deemed confidential as a part of a settlement agreement.
The suit alleges that Craig “persistently and relentlessly sought out Mary Trump in her pursuit of certain documents which she believed to be in Mary Trump’s possession” and eventually provided the president’s niece with a “burner” phone to help her smuggle the confidential documents from a law office.
Mary Trump has been an outspoken critic of her uncle and regularly appears on liberal cable news networks to bash him. She penned the 2020 book “Too Much and Never Enough: Ho My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man” along with the 2021 follow-up, “The Reckoning: Our Nation’s Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal.”
The Times published an article on Oct. 2, 2018, “Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches from His Father,” which acknowledged it was “based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records.” The language confirms the Times “had actual knowledge that the Confidential Records were, in fact, confidential,” according to the suit.
Former President Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, has been an outspoken critic of her uncle.
“The defendants’ actions were motivated by a personal vendetta and their desire to gain fame, notoriety, acclaim and a financial windfall and were further intended to advance their political agenda,” the suit claims.
Cited in the lawsuit was a February 2021 exchange Mary Trump had on The Daily Beast’s “The New Abnormal podcast,” where she admitted to being the source for the Times’ reporting.
“You were ultimately the source for the tax story,” podcast host Molly Jong-Fast said.
“Yeah, um, I’m actually really proud of that,” she responded. “But I have to be honest with you, I didn’t even remember I had [the confidential records]. It’s entirely down to the brilliant Susanne Craig for, one, reminding me that I had them and, two, so effectively and tenaciously trying to convince — I mean it took her months before I did — so it’s entirely down to her.”
In response to her uncle’s lawsuit, Mary Trump told The Daily Beast, which first reported on the filing, “I think he is a f—ing loser, and he is going to throw anything against the wall he can,” adding, “It’s desperation. The walls are closing in and he is throwing anything against the wall that will stick. As is always the case with Donald, he’ll try and change the subject.”
A Times spokesperson told Fox News, “The Times’s coverage of Donald Trump’s taxes helped inform citizens through meticulous reporting on a subject of overriding public interest. This lawsuit is an attempt to silence independent news organizations and we plan to vigorously defend against it.”
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