Donald Trump's Lawsuit Against Univision Is Absolutely Hilarious

from the yes-we'll-add-the-obligatory-xkcd dept

Donald Trump seems to be showing off what would happen if your prototypical internet troll had way too much money at his disposal. As you may have heard, he’s putting on a big show of “running” for President, though as many have recognized, the move appears to be a hell of a lot more about getting himself publicity (thankfully, at least some news organizations are properly categorizing stories about Trump as entertainment rather than politics). Of course, the plan to get more attention may be backfiring somewhat, as some of the ridiculous comments he’s made “on the campaign” are coming back to bite him — including Univision cutting ties with him over the Miss USA telecast and NBC dumping both the pageants and his Apprentice series (that thing is still on?).

In response, Trump has filed what has to be one of the funniest lawsuits we’ve seen in a long time against Univision over the cancelled deal. It honestly reads like one of those nutty conspiracy theory lawsuits we see all the time, often filed pro se. You’d think that Trump would have trouble finding lawyers willing to file nuttiness on his behalf, but apparently there’s always someone. It even resorts to the worst trolling tactic of internet commenters: complaining that his “First Amendment rights” are being violated because Univision dropped him. And it all involves a conspiracy involving Hillary Clinton. Seriously.

While Univision has claimed in the media that its decision to cut ties with MUO came in response to certain comments by Mr. Trump during a June 16, 2015 campaign speech announcing his candidacy for President of the United States, the decision was, in reality, a thinly veiled attempt by Univision, a privately held company principally owned by longtime Clinton Foundation donor and current Hillary Clinton fundraiser, Haim Saban, to suppress Mr. Trump’s freedom of speech under the First Amendment as he begins to campaign for the nation’s presidency and, in recent weeks, has dramatically risen in the polls while expressing critical views of Mrs. Clinton. Little else can explain Univision’s decision to not only abandon its contractual relationship with MUO, but also, upon information and belief, pressure NBC to follow suit and cut longstanding ties with Plaintiffs nearly two weeks after the statements were made.

First of all, as all of you (minus a few trolls) are currently screaming right now, no the First Amendment has absolutely nothing to do with this. We’ll let the obligatory xkcd explain:

The statement is also entirely superfluous to the lawsuit as well, as none of the actual legal claims have anything to do with his First Amendment rights. Apparently Trump could get the lawyers to throw that bit into the description of the case, but when it came time to make actual claims, even the lawyers wouldn’t go so far as to make a First Amendment claim.

Also, “little else can explain?” Really? Actually, there are tons of other explanations, with many of them being a hell of a lot more plausible than any fear of Trump being a legitimate contender for the White House — for example, the actually stated reason that Trump out and out offended the entire country of Mexico with some ridiculous statements.

Next up in the internet troll playbook, we have the ridiculous claim of “defamation” over statements that the person doesn’t like, but which are clearly statements of opinion, rather than fact:

In a move which can only be described as both tasteless and defamatory, on June 25, 2015, Mr. Ciurana, Univision’s President of Programing and Content, then posted a photo on his official Univision Instagram account comparing Mr. Trump to Dylann Roof, the 21 year old who was recently arrested in the murder of nine (9) African-Americans attending bible study at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, one of the worst hate crimes to ever take place on U.S. soil. While Mr. Cuirana would later remove the defamatory post, the damage was already done: almost immediately, Mr. Ciurana’s post was picked up by the media and became the subject of hundreds, if not thousands, of press articles, yet another example of Univision’s dubious efforts to create a false narrative in an attempt to upset Mr. Trump’s longstanding personal and business relationship with the Hispanic community.

If you’re curious, here’s the Instagram that Alberto Ciurana put up:

It’s pretty clearly a somewhat weak attempt at humor, mocking the hair cuts of Trump and Roof. Tasteless? Perhaps, but there’s no law requiring anyone to be tasteful in their internet jokes. Defamatory? Not in any way, shape or form. Not even close. And yet, unlike the non sequitur (and incorrect) First Amendment claims earlier, the lawsuit actually does claim defamation.

It’s entirely possible that there are legitimate issues concerning breach of contract here, but even most of that seems like a stretch. Because Univision didn’t just cut ties with Trump, it actually agreed to pay the full licensing amounts it promised for the next five years (totaling $13.5 million). In other words, Trump actually didn’t lose any direct money from this, because Univision paid up (and, in theory, he could try to license it to someone else, though I’m not sure who would want to pay at this point). But Trump is — hilariously — claiming damages of $500 million because now people won’t see the pageants.

Of course, Trump’s own arguments undermine his arguments (because of course they do). The lawsuit repeatedly brags that there was a bidding war earlier this year, in which Univision emerged victorious. Thus, at least a few months ago, other TV media properties wished to broadcast the pageants. If it was true that this was all just a grand conspiracy by Hillary Clinton supporter Saban, then you’d think that Trump could simply move on to whoever else was in that bidding war (while keeping all the money that Univision paid him anyway!). But, of course, if the real reason for the cancellation was because of Trump’s comments about Mexico and the concern about how Spanish-speaking audiences felt about that — well, then Trump wouldn’t be able to find that alternative.

The lawsuit is then equally hilarious in arguing that it can’t possibly be Trump’s offensive comments about Mexico because Trump has said the same offensive crap many times before. That seems like an odd thing to argue in such a lawsuit, but it’s what Trump’s lawyers have chosen to claim:

In reality, however, Mr. Trump’s calls for immigration reform, particularly with respect to the U.S.-Mexican border, were nothing new. Indeed, for over a decade, Mr. Trump had, in numerous television and news interviews, consistently voiced his concerns regarding the influx of illegal immigrants pouring into the United States across the Mexican border and the crime that has resulted therefrom, views which were widely reported by every major media outlet, including, both Univision and NBC.

As Mr. Trump explained in an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly on March 30, 2011, “[t]hey’re coming over, and they’re climbing over a fence, and there’s nobody within 10 miles — and they’re selling drugs all over the place, they’re killing people all over the place — and we’re not doing anything about it.”

Indeed. It may be true that Trump has said offensive things in the past, but that doesn’t mean that Univision can’t later decide that the greater attention paid to his more recent offensive comments are such that it no longer wishes to do business with him. There’s no rule anywhere that says, “Well, if you didn’t complain four years ago when I said some stupid shit, you can’t complaint now!” Even if it’s true that Univision is only making this decision because Trump’s comments went a bit viral, that’s Univision’s decision to make, and his previous comments are completely meaningless.

Frankly, this lawsuit is absolutely hilarious. The chances of it going anywhere are pretty slim. The First Amendment arguments are ridiculous, but meaningless, as there’s no actual legal claim there. The defamation claims are going to get laughed out of court. The whole thing is fairly hilarious, and fits in with the designation of Trump as “entertainment” rather than anything even remotely serious.

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Companies: nbc, univision

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Comments on “Donald Trump's Lawsuit Against Univision Is Absolutely Hilarious”

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54 Comments
MDT (profile) says:

Defamation insane, breach of contract, probably not so much...

I’m expecting a split decision personally, I think he’ll probably win on the breach of contract, but almost certainly loose and lose big on the defamation, as it’s nutty. From what I’ve read from legal commentators who have read the contract, there’s no morals clause in the contract (which was stupid on someone’s part considering who Trump is).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Defamation insane, breach of contract, probably not so much...

Yes, its just hard to believe that there isn’t any kind of termination or exit. Im assuming that trump and others have done contracts before.

but anyway, it seems like they bought out the contract. Im thinking he will not win on breech of contract.

MDT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Defamation insane, breach of contract, probably not so much...

Yes, its just hard to believe that there isn’t any kind of termination or exit. Im assuming that trump and others have done contracts before.

but anyway, it seems like they bought out the contract. Im thinking he will not win on breech of contract.

Just the first link I found on a search for ‘Toobin Trump Contract Univision’.

http://www.breitbart.com/video/2015/06/30/cnns-toobin-on-trump-suit-no-provision-for-univision-to-withdraw-not-a-frivolous-lawsuit/

Saw Toobin on CNN talking about this. Apparently, someone screwed up in the contract, and not on Trumps side. I think he’s a jerk, and I wouldn’t knowingly do business with him, but, in this case, it’s entirely possible the contract didn’t have an exit (at least, not that covers this).

MDT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Defamation insane, breach of contract, probably not so much...

[quote]Would care to speculate how the contract was breached?[/quote]

Hmm, let’s see, I have a contract that says you will show my show on your network. You back out because I say something you don’t like, and there’s nothing in the contract that says you can do that… breach of contract. As I said before, if you go look at the commentary on the contract, it appears Univision didn’t have any ‘we can cancel for moral turpitude’ clauses. Which means they have no right to cancel the show because Trump is a jerk.

Anonymous Coward says:

…the decision was, in reality, a thinly veiled attempt by Univision, a privately held company principally owned by longtime Clinton Foundation donor and current Hillary Clinton fundraiser, Haim Saban, to suppress Mr. Trump’s freedom of speech under the First Amendment as he begins to campaign for the nation’s presidency and, in recent weeks, has dramatically risen in the polls while expressing critical views of Mrs. Clinton.

Little else can explain Univision’s decision to not only abandon its contractual relationship with MUO, but also, upon information and belief, pressure NBC to follow suit and cut longstanding ties with Plaintiffs nearly two weeks after the statements were made.

We assert, in the strongest lawyerly language possible, that Mr. Trump is not a racist asshole, and furthermore, we invite you to look at that squirrel over there.

Labeling Isn't Proof says:

"Little else can explain" -- Okay, Masnick, explain it! You have no alternative for this complex sequence of events.

So you’re okay if a public figure is harassed by a corporation for no articulable reason? — There’s no reason for you to be concerned, is there?

And what happened to sticking up for the principle Free Speech when it’s arbitrarily suppressed? Guess that only applies to speech you approve of. This is BAD precedent, so you should be on Trump’s side, regardless of all else.

What I think funny is that Trump has already retaliated by prohibiting a hotel golf course to Univision execs! (Their properties adjoin; were even making a special entrance for them.) What a great cut. Whatever you say about Trump, he’s straightforward.

This is Techdirt’s usual easy target so the fanboys can spew.

There. I’ve had my Free Speech, and you’re hosting it. Dare you to remove it.

JMT says:

Re: "Little else can explain" -- Okay, Masnick, explain it! You have no alternative for this complex sequence of events.

“So you’re okay if a public figure is harassed by a corporation for no articulable reason?”

The reason was quite clearly articulated.

“And what happened to sticking up for the principle Free Speech when it’s arbitrarily suppressed?”

Please refer to the above XKCD cartoon. Let us know if you’re having trouble understanding this simple concept, and we’ll explain it using small words.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: "Little else can explain" -- Okay, Masnick, explain it! You have no alternative for this complex sequence of events.

In this matter TRUMP is also a corporation you dimwit!

Free speech between two PRIVATE individuals/corporations is null and void since it does NOT exist!

There. I’ve had my Free Speech, and you’re hosting it. Dare you to remove it.
I’d rather leave it here and mock you over and over for the stupidity of it!

btr1701 (profile) says:

Trump

> As Mr. Trump explained in an interview with
> Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly on March 30, 2011,
> “[t]hey’re coming over, and they’re climbing
> over a fence, and there’s nobody within 10
> miles — and they’re selling drugs all over
> the place, they’re killing people all over
> the place — and we’re not doing anything
> about it.”

> Indeed. It may be true that Trump has said
> offensive things in the past

How the hell is that offensive? It’s *true*. Illegals *do* account for a significant amount of crime in the U.S. Are we not even allowed to acknowledge reality anymore out of the abject terror of offending someone?

We had a brilliant Chinese kid at USC get viciously murdered by a couple of illegals last year. Illegals who were on their second or third capture-deport-capture-deport merry-go-round. When the kid’s parents in China tried to book travel to the U.S. to claim their son’s body and bring it back home, U.S. Immigration gave them no end of grief and red tape. When it comes to grieving parents, they’re suddenly all concerned about strictly enforcing immigration law– dotting those i’s and crossing those t’s– but the two sociopaths who killed the kid? It’s hands off them. They’re Mexicans and enforcing the law against them would rrraaaaaciiiist or something.

This crap is getting absurd.

Toestubber (profile) says:

Re: Trump

I’m going to grant many of your vague assertions as if they were true. Your position is not that the INS should lay off the Chinese kid’s grieving parents, but that INS should instead work harder to make everybody else’s lives miserable with red tape? This faith in a strong daddy-government must bring comfort.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Trump

Expect the knock-on effects to result in
> harassment of innocent citizens.

Unless those citizens are swimming across a river or climbing a fence to get into the country, I see no reason why they’d be harassed. Indeed, if they are doing those things, they deserve to be harassed right along with the illegals.

Sunhawk says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Trump

Unless those citizens are swimming across a river or climbing a fence to get into the country, I see no reason why they’d be harassed. Indeed, if they are doing those things, they deserve to be harassed right along with the illegals.

Oh, my sweet summer child… to think that the actions will be taken against only those “climbing fences” or “swimming across a river”…

As opposed to “driving while Hispanic” within… oh, say, a hundred miles of a border.

Ruben Quintanilla says:

Alberto Ciurana’s Instagram

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” –Donald Trump, Jun. 16, 2015

“You don’t have to do this.” –Tywanza Sanders, Jun. 17, 2015

“Yes. You are raping our women and taking over the country.” –Dylann Storm Roof, Jun. 17, 2015

See also:

http://werehistory.org/charleston-rape-myth/

http://www.thenation.com/article/the-historical-roots-of-dylann-roofs-racism/

Immigrant says:

I am immigrant with no status (Mexican), I am not a rapist, or drug dealer, or killer. What I am is …Mechanical Engineer and Physicist. Spent 5 Years in am ac-creditable US university.
Paid more than 120,000 thousands dollars in tuition. I support this economy more than some people in the “room” with my engineering skills and science skills creating technology for everyone to enjoy in their homes, in their cars, in hospitals, refineries, etc. I also know people in the same situation I am.

Per some comments in this “room” I am a bad influence, question is how am I bad influence if I do a lot of good for every single one in this room, in this nation, and the world?

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