UPDATE, 1:12 PM PT: CNN responded to a legal threat from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign by comparing it to the type of letter they would get “from countries like Venezuela or other regimes where there is little or no respect for a free and independent media.”
The Trump campaign earlier asked CNN for a retraction of and apology for a poll that showed Joe Biden with a 14-point lead. On Monday, Trump said that he retained pollster John McLaughlin to refute the claims.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time in its 40 year history that CNN has been threatened with legal action because an American politician or campaign did not like CNN’s polling results,” wrote David C. Vigilante, the network’s executive vice president and general counsel.
Vigilante also criticized McLaughlin, noting that in 2014 “his firm famously reported that Eric Cantor was leading his primary challenger Dave Brat by 34 points only to lose by 11 points — a 45 point swing. The firm currently has a C/D rating from FiveThirtyEight.”
He ended the letter by writing that the Trump campaign’s letter was “factually and legally baseless.”
“It is yet another bad faith attempt by the campaign to threaten litigation to muzzle speech it does not want voters to read or hear,” he wrote.
PREVIOUSLY, 11:28 AM PT: President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign sent a cease-and-desist letter to CNN demanding that it retract and apologize for a poll showing Joe Biden with a 14-point lead in the race for the White House.
“We stand by our poll,” a CNN spokesperson said.
A Trump campaign spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment, but in the letter, senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis and chief operating officer Michael Glassner write to CNN chief Jeff Zucker that the poll was “designed to mislead American voters through a biased questionnaire and skewed sampling.”
“Media polls such as these are designed to manufacture an anti-Trump narrative and misinform and mislead actual voters,” they wrote. “It’s a stunt and a phony poll to cause voter suppression, stifle momentum and enthusiasm for the President, and present a false view generally of the actual support across America for the President.”
Irked by the poll’s results, Trump announced Monday that he had retained pollster John McLaughlin to do an analysis of the poll.
In their letter, Ellis and Glassner wrote: “According to our independent assessment via the highly respected McLaughlin & Associates, ‘The CNN poll out today is another skewed anti-Trump poll of only 25% Republican. It’s a poll of 1,259 adults — not even registered voters, let alone likely voters. Also, it was done between June 2nd and 5th, before the great economic news from last Friday.’ Further, the questions and topics selected likely biased the poll further.”
Trump often has lashed out at polls as “fake,” including those conducted by Fox News. Other polls also show Trump falling behind Biden, some with a smaller but still significant gap. The RealClearPolitics national average of polls on Wednesday shows Biden with an 8.1-point lead.
The campaign requested that CNN retract the poll, which was conducted by SSRS, “by publishing a full, fair, and conspicuous retraction, apology, and clarification to correct its misleading conclusions.” They also claim that the poll is defamatory and misleading.
In a story on the Trump campaign letter, CNN.com noted that “while it’s accurate that 1,259 adults were reached on landlines or cell phones by a live interviewer for the survey, the 14-point margin by which Trump is trailing Biden came from a question posed only to 1,125 registered voters. It’s typical for polling to sample registered voters rather than likely ones at this stage of the race, as it’s difficult to project whether voters will participate in an election that is five months away.” The cable news network also noted that the 25% sample of Republicans is a percentage that is “consistent with several other major polls that use live telephone interviews, which provide the most reliable snapshot of the race.”