Former Trump Administration National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s sister-in-law, Valerie Flynn, has filed a $100 million defamation lawsuit against CNN.
Flynn claims the network deceptively edited a video to falsely make it appear she is a follower of QAnon, the fringe conspiracy theory movement.
“CNN abandoned all journalistic standards and integrity, including CNN’s own standards and code of ethics, in writing, editing, and publishing the false narrative. CNN did not seek the truth or report it. It betrayed the truth to sensationalize the news for self-glory, profit, and politics,” the lawsuit alleges. It was filed on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
The suit alleges a Feb. 4, 2021, report by CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan titled, “CNN Goes Inside A Gathering Of QANON Followers,” falsely accused Valerie Flynn of following the movement.
The suit accuses O’Sullivan’s report of selectively editing and altering a clip that Michael Flynn posted to his Twitter account on July 4, 2020. According to the suit, the video originally showed a July 4 barbeque at Valerie’s home in which each family member “individually took an oath to the United States Constitution, the same oath taken by Members of Congress,” in order to demonstrate patriotism.
“The entire family then exclaimed, ‘God Bless America.’ In the altered clip used in the O’Sullivan report, CNN intentionally edited out the oath to the United States Constitution and omitted the words ‘God Bless America,’ fraudulently making it appear and insinuating that Valerie pledged an oath of allegiance to QAnon. By its editing and production of the O’Sullivan report, CNN intended and endorsed the defamatory meaning,” according to the lawsuit.
“Although it knew nothing about Valerie, CNN consciously chose to include Valerie in the edited clip. The clip conveyed a very powerful (but untrue) message: that Valerie pledged her allegiance to QAnon. CNN made no effort in the O’Sullivan report to dispel that notion,” the suit continued, noting that footage of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was intertwined with footage of her family.
“The O’Sullivan report intentionally misrepresented and actively sought to conceal what oath Valerie was actually taking,” according to the suit. “Valerie is not a follower of any violent, extremist or terrorist groups, including QAnon. CNN’s false statements subjected Valerie to hatred, distrust, ridicule, contempt, and disgrace.”
The lawsuit also alleges that “CNN’s false attributions exposed Valerie to public scorn, ridicule and contempt, and lowered her esteem in the community, causing insult, embarrassment, humiliation and substantial injury to her reputation” and enjoyed life as a private citizen prior to CNN “egregiously” defaming her.
“They were a product of CNN’s imagination and desire to hurt General Michael Flynn,” the suit states. “CNN is a Democratic Party trumpet. CNN recruits hire and promote journalists who share its extreme ideology and political viewpoints. CNN harbors an institutional animosity, hostility, hatred, extreme bias, spite, and ill-will towards the Flynn family, and, in particular, General Flynn.”
Flynn is seeking $25 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages.