The brother and sister-in-law of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn are suing CNN for $75 million over a report that the couple were believers of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
John "Jack" Flynn, brother of retired Gen. Michael Flynn, and his wife Leslie filed a defamation lawsuit against CNN on Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The Flynns allege that the cable network falsely accused them of being supporters of the QAnon movement.
John and Leslie Flynn claim that a CNN segment dedicated to exposing the QAnon movement featured footage of the couple at a Fourth of July barbecue in Rhode Island. Video shows the couple joining Michael Flynn and the group saying, "Where we go one, we go all." The phrase has been a rallying cry of QAnon, but the Flynns contend that it has nothing to do with the conspiracy theory group.
"The lawsuit disputes that the 'WWG1WGA' slogan, which is routinely used on QAnon merchandise and by adherents on social media and at rallies, is linked to the conspiracy theory," Newsweek reports. "Flynn's phrase, it said, was inspired by an inscription 'engraved on a bell on one of President John F. Kennedy's sailboats, acknowledging the unity of mankind.'"
The Flynns claim that CNN selectively edited the video clip that originally aired on Feb. 4, and did not include the moment directly after when the family exclaimed, "God Bless America." The lawsuit alleges that the CNN clip was "fraudulently making it appear and insinuating that [Jack and Leslie] pledged an oath of allegiance to QAnon."
CNN goes inside a gathering of QAnon followers. https://t.co/u7ZT0pokSo https://t.co/C7fK6SPpWb— CNN Newsroom (@CNN Newsroom) 1612560043.0
"Plaintiffs are not followers or supporters of any extremist or terrorist groups, including QAnon," the lawsuit states, according to The Hill. "CNN falsely attributed to Plaintiffs associations that never existed, actions Plaintiffs never took, including an oath of allegiance to QAnon, and views Plaintiffs never held."
"CNN's false attributions exposed Plaintiffs to public scorn, ridicule and contempt, and lowered their esteem in the community, causing insult, embarrassment, humiliation and substantial injury to Plaintiffs' reputations," the suit stated.
"CNN falsely accused Plaintiffs of being 'followers' and supporters of the 'dangerous,' 'violent,' 'racist,' 'extremist,' 'insurrectionist,' 'domestic terrorism movement – QAnon," the suit alleged, according to Just The News.
The lawsuit alleges that after "the January 6 storming of the Capitol, a chorus of left-wing media outlets began to spread false narratives about QAnon, including that Jack Flynn's brother, retired Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn ('General Flynn'), was the 'founder' of QAnon."
The Flynns' lawyer, Steven S. Biss, accused CNN of being "a Democratic Party trumpet that foreswore its role as an impartial reporter of facts and joined with political partisans in an overall plan or scheme to discredit the character of the Flynns. For that, it must be held accountable by a jury."
Leslie Flynn released a statement that said, "Enough is enough with CNN, and the lies about our family. We cannot sit by any longer and allow CNN to disparage our good name. This has got to stop."
The lawsuit claims that the CNN segment has caused the Flynns to suffer from "public scorn, ridicule and contempt, and lowered their esteem in the community, causing insult, embarrassment, humiliation and substantial injury to Plaintiffs' reputations."
When asked about the lawsuit, a CNN spokesperson told The Hill, "As a policy we don't comment on litigation."