“The question of whether the Flynns were followers of QAnon, and in particular, whether the Flynns were” followers “as that word is understood in the context of the CNN post, is a very factual inquiry,” he said. writes Woods, a person appointed by President Barack Obama.
The Flynns categorically denied being followers of QAnon, a popular online conspiracy theory that claimed elites sexually abused children and that former President Donald Trump planned to declare a national emergency to retaliate against obscure figures involved in it. abuses.
Lawyers for CNN have argued that Jack Flynn’s tweets show he espouses key QAnon principles, but Woods said those messages cannot be properly considered by the court at this point in the case.
“Even though the tweets express their support for QAnon and therefore prove that the Flynns were followers of QAnon, the court cannot weigh the evidence to decide a motion to dismiss,” the judge wrote. “Instead, the task of the court is to assess the legal feasibility of the complaint.”
Woods also said it was not clear that the tweets established with certainty that the Flynns were QAnon followers.
“The Flynns’ tweets do not conclusively contradict their factual allegations,” the judge wrote.
Jack and Leslie Flynn filed a lawsuit against CNN in March, claiming $ 75 million in damages and claiming they were vilified by CNN articles and social media posts. A Twitter post to a network account in February showed Michael Flynn standing next to his brother Jack and sister-in-law Leslie, raising his hand and reciting an oath popular with QAnon adherents: “Where we go one, we let’s all. “
An onscreen graphic that appeared under a screenshot image of the Flynns said, “CNN is entering a rally of QAnon followers.” Similar images have appeared on CNN TV’s programming.
Woods’ decision did not discuss whether Jack and Leslie Flynn should be considered public or private figures. Trial judge Sarah Cave ruled that they were private figures, although she suggested the matter could be reconsidered later in the case. If the Flynns remain classified as private figures, they may only be held to be negligent on CNN’s part. A higher standard applies to lawsuits brought by public figures, who must show that the media knew their statements were false or acted recklessly in disregard of evidence that would undermine their truth.
CNN spokespersons did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the decision.