That Time Donald Trump Threatened to Sue The Onion Over ‘Defamatory’ Story
So here’s what happened. In 2013, The Onion (which in case you don’t know is a satirical newspaper) printed a fake ‘opinion’ piece authored by ‘Donald Trump‘ titled, “When You’re Feeling Low, Just Remember I’ll Be Dead in About 15 or 20 Years.”
Indeed, you can always take solace in the fact that the monstrous, unimaginable piece of shit that is me will stop existing fairly soon, and that I will continue to not exist for the remainder of your lifetime…
And if my death in 15 or 20 years feels like it’s too far in the future to wash away your blues, you can take heart knowing that I’ll start to physically and mentally deteriorate well before then. Why, by 2020, I, a man who recently tried to extort the sitting president of the United States to release his college and passport records, might even begin to show signs of serious and unavoidable decline in mental and physical faculties, and doesn’t that just perk your spirits right up? Just imagine me shuffling along, hunched forward, with a noticeably shortened gait and perpetually haggard face.
So…. apparently, Trump didn’t really appreciate the satire, and reportedly had his attorney send the editorial staff a very kind little note. In a recent NBC’s ‘Web Extra’, The Onion staff discussed what that letter said.
“You should read it, it is most wonderful thing in the world,” one of the The Onion editors said.
I transcribed what I could from the interview. Trump’s attorney allegedly wrote:
“To the Onion: I wish to call your attention to an article currently on your home page allegedly penned by Donald Trump entitled, “When You’re Feeling Low, Just Remember I’ll Be Dead in About 15 or 20 Years.” Let me begin by stating the obvious, the commentary was not written by Donald Trump. The article is an absolutely disgusting piece that lacks any place in journalism even in your Onion. I am hereby demanding that you immediately remove this disgraceful piece from your website and apologize to Mr. Trump. I further ask that you contact me immediately to discuss. This commentary goes way beyond defamation and if it is not removed I will take all actions to ensure that your actions will not go without consequences. Guide yourself accordingly.”
In case Trump’s attorneys are not aware, according to the Supreme Court case, Hustler Magazine vs. Falwell, the First Amendment protects publications which publish parodies of public figures from being held civilly liable. In that case, the Justices found that any ‘reasonable person’ would not have interpreted the satire to contain actual factual claims. I think we can all assume that the same principal would apply here.