In the lawsuit, filed in the 12th Judicial Court of Sarasota County, Florida, on Monday, Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG) accuses the “reckless and malicious” outlets of falsely reporting that the company had lost $73m since its launch.
The company claims that the “false reporting” was part of a “seemingly coordinated effort to destroy TMTG and Truth Social”.
“This case is about an unprecedented and seemingly coordinated media campaign, by no less than 20 major media outlets, to attack Trump Media & Technology Group (“TMTG”) and its social media platform, Truth Social, by falsely reporting that TMTG had lost $73 million,” the lawsuit reads.
“This number was an utter fabrication. Each defendant, in apparent coordination, reported the exact same false number within approximately 24 hours of one another, each citing to a public Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filing, in which the mystery $73 million loss appears nowhere.”
The media outlets named in the suit are: Reuters, The Guardian, The Miami Herald and its executive editor Alex Mena, The Daily Mail, CNBC, Mediaite, The Hill, Forbes, Axios, The Daily Beast, Gizmodo, Salon.com, MarketWatch, New York Daily News, Newsweek, MSNBC, Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, Benzinga and Rolling Stone.
Truth Social’s parent company claims that this was a “coordinated effort” by the media organisations to “damage TMTG’s reputation, degrade the firm’s financial standing, freeze its access to capital, and torpedo the anticipated merger between Digital World Acquisition Corporation (“DWAC”) and TMTG”.
The lawsuit centres around the release of an SEC filing on 13 November, which gave a glimpse into the social media company’s financial health for the very first time.
The filing – a registration statement – was filed as part of the planned merger between Digital World Acquisition Corporation (DWAC), a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC), and TMTG.
The Independent also covered the SEC filing at the time, but reported how it showed Truth Social’s parent company had lost almost $23m in the first half of 2023 and brought in just $2.3m in net sales.
In total, TMTG suffered a net loss of $31.6m since the organisation’s founding in February 2021, the filing revealed.
This includes a net loss of $59m in the year ending 31 December 2021, a net profit of $50.5m in the year ending 31 December 2022 and a net loss of almost $23m in the six months ending 30 June 2023. The company’s Truth Social app went live in February 2022.
The filing, as The Independent reported at the time, raised doubts about the viability of the company.
“TMTG’s independent registered public accounting firm has indicated that TMTG’s financial condition raises substantial doubt as to its ability to continue as a going concern,” the company noted in the filing.
The company said the “management has substantial doubt that TMTG will have sufficient funds to meet its liabilities as they fall due, including liabilities related to promissory notes previously issued by TMTG”.
The filing also raised concerns that both TMTG and DWAC might not survive if the merger doesn’t go through.
“It is uncertain that Digital World will be able to consummate a business combination by this time. If a business combination is not consummated by this date, there will be a mandatory liquidation and subsequent dissolution of Digital World,” the filing said.
“TMTG believes that it may be difficult to raise additional funds through traditional financing sources in the absence of material progress toward completing its merger with Digital World,” the filing further said.
“A number of companies that had licence agreements with President Trump have failed. There can be no assurances that TMTG will not also fail,” the filing said.
The filing also cites a number of “risks related to our chairman, president Donald J Trump”, namely the former president’s trove of legal battles.
According to the lawsuit, the companies being sued by TMTG all published reports within 24 hours of each other and with “nearly identical headlines” claiming the company had lost $73m since its launch in February 2022.
TMTG claims it contacted each of the 20 media organisations demanding a retraction and apology over the report of a $73m loss. While some organisations have issued little-noticed “corrections” or “updates,” none have retracted the defamatory articles or publicly apologised, the suit claims.
As a result of the “widespread lies” in the reports, TMTG claims “committed and potential investors have reacted negatively” and the company’s ability to raise additional capital has been hampered.
TMTG is now seeking $1.5bn in compensatory, special, and punitive damages from the media organisations, as well as income the companies have made from the reports.
The company is asking for a jury trial in the lawsuit.
The Independent has contacted the 20 media organisations being sued by TMTG for comment – as well as TMTG. Nextar responded: “No comment,” while the others have yet to reply.
The social media platforms have since reinstated the former president’s accounts but he continues to predominantly use Truth Social as his outlet of choice.
The Independent’s Io Dodds and Vishwam Sankaran contributed to this report