Jake Tapper Could Cost CNN $1 Billion in Defamation Suit

Townhall Media

The first presidential debate is scheduled for Thursday, and, as of right now, the Biden campaign claims their candidate will show up. I’m not so sure, but I guess we’ll see. Interestingly enough, one of the moderators in the debate, Jake Tapper, is the subject of a defamation lawsuit that could cost the network $1 billion.

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You may not have heard about it yet, but the Florida First District Court of Appeals recently ruled that plaintiff Zachary Young can pursue punitive damages, along with economic and emotional damages, in a civil trial against CNN. According to Newsbusters, the total damages sought could approach or exceed $1 billion because of Tapper's comments defaming Young's efforts to aid individuals in Afghanistan during the botched withdrawal in 2021.

For that outcome to be remotely in the cards, Young needed to prove malice and according to the ruling, he’s done exactly that. “Young sufficiently proffered evidence of actual malice, express malice, and a level of conduct outrageous enough to open the door for him to seek punitive damages,” Judge L. Clayton Roberts wrote in the court’s ruling.

The court felt the high bars for actual and expressed malice were met because of internal CNN messages that were extremely vicious toward Young. Correspondent  Alex Marquardt, the “primary reporter” expressed in a message to a colleague that he wanted to “nail this Zachary Young mfucker” and thought the story would be Young’s “funeral.” On that declaration of wanting to “nail” Young, CNN editor Matthew Philips responded: “gonna hold you to that cowboy!”

Alongside Marquardt, CNN senior editor Fuzz Hogan, who’s a member of CNN’s internally lauded “Triad” of editorial, legal, and standards/practices oversight personnel, described Young as “a shit.”

In an interview with NewsBusters, Vel Freedman, the lawyer representing Young, said that “everyone makes mistakes” but what CNN’s messages showed was a “systemic problem” inside the network. He added that their internal mechanism for accountability had “clearly failed” and opened themselves to “massive, massive liability.”

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According to Freedman, Young suffered economic losses estimated at between $40-60 million due to damage inflicted on his career as a security contractor, as colleagues now hesitate to collaborate with him. Should emotional damages be awarded by a jury, the potential upper limit could reach $600 million. On top of that, the court's acknowledgment of CNN's malicious and egregious conduct has eliminated the punitive damages cap in Florida. All together, CNN may end up having to pay $1 billion.

The case hinged on CNN’s use of the phrases “black market” and “exploited” to describe Young’s legitimate business helping corporately sponsored Afghans escape the country as it collapsed around them and the Taliban retook control. Young’s clients included Audible and Bloomberg News - one of CNN’s industry peers, and he saved 24 people.

Freedman said CNN essentially “branded [Young] a human trafficker” and a “war profiteer” and broadcasted it to millions of households.

Jake Tapper, the host whose show the allegedly defamatory story ran on (The Lead), also made a point to note that people seeking escape were given “no guarantee of safety or success.” Yet, at no point could CNN prove that what Young was doing was a scam. In fact, their editors admitted in messages [they] couldn’t find evidence of it.

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Related: WATCH: CNN Anchor Has Tantrum After Trump Spokeswoman Calls Out Jake Tapper's Bias

Four years ago, CNN settled a defamation lawsuit from Kentucky high school student Nick Sandmann, who sought $275 million in damages after the network falsely accused him of being racist following a confrontation at the 2019 March for Life rally. Will they fight this lawsuit, or will they settle?

One thing is for sure, the network hasn't learned a thing and will continue its biased coverage.

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