Attorneys for Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump are employing a novel legal argument in Trump’s $500 million lawsuit against Univision for dumping his pageants and “defaming” Trump by tweeting a photo comparison of Charleston mass shooter Dylann Roof. Univision shouldn’t have severed relations with Trump and his pageants, they say, because his remarks about Mexican rapists and other criminals streaming into the United States were totally “foreseeable” by Univision when they agreed to broadcast the Miss Universe and Miss U.S.A. pageants:
“Over the course of his career, Mr. Trump has been known throughout the world as a ‘straight-talker’ — someone who is not afraid to speak his mind and voice concerns publicly regarding political, economic and social issues he feels strongly about and which he believes are important to the well-being of the country and the world,” his lawyers wrote in the filings.
“For over a decade, Mr. Trump has, 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.”
Obviously, there is an argument to be made over the degree of offense in Trump’s remarks. The attorneys cited this November 30, 2011 exchange with Bill O’Reilly:
They’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. You’re going to have to look at the individual people, see how they’ve done, see how productive they’ve been, see what their references are — and then make a decision.
Those remarks were, of course, quite different in degree from those Trump made at his campaign kickoff, the plain meaning of which are that the majority of undocumented Mexican immigrants are rapists and other criminals, while some are probably not simply by virtue of probability:
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. And they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.
Also working in Univision’s favor is the timing of those remarks, which came just two days before Dylann Roof was quoted as saying “You are raping our women and taking over our country” as he murdered nine black parishioners at Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, South Carolina. Those remarks were widely compared with Trump’s, arguably amplifying the distinction between them and his earlier, relatively less inflammatory remarks.
It was that comparison that seemed to be behind Univision President Alberto Ciurana’s tweet featuring Trump and Roof, but Univision’s lawyers are shying away from that comparison with the fairly ridiculous claim that the tweet was a commentary on weird hairdos:
The actual depiction shows only two determinedly glum faces with similarly coiffed hair and the caption “No Comments.” To a reasonable viewer, the re-posted image conveys a tongue-in-cheek observation on Trump’s appearance—hardly novel, given that Trump has long been lampooned for his hairstyle. At most, the post could be construed as a criticism of Trump’s extreme and controversial opinions on race and national origin.
Yeah, probably more the second thing.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.