NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump filed a $500 million lawsuit Monday against Univision, after the Spanish-language network terminated its relationship with Trump’s Miss Universe Organization.
The lawsuit was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court Tuesday and named Univision Networks & Studios Inc. and Alberto Ciurana, Univision’s programming and content president, as defendants.
The suit claimed that Trump’s First Amendment rights were violated when the company backed out of its contract to air the Miss USA contest – scheduled to be held in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on July 12.
The suit said Univision must broadcast the pageant in Spanish under the terms of its contract. While Univision said the decision to drop the pageant was only a response to Trump’s June 16 speech announcing his candidacy for presidency, the suit claimed the decision was “a politically motivated attempt to suppress Mr. Trump’s freedom of speech under the First Amendment,” according to a news release.
The suit claimed the reason for the “attempt to suppress” Trump’s freedom of speech is that Univision’s owner supports Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.
When Trump announced his candidacy earlier this month, he said: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
He called for building a wall along the southern border of the United States. Trump later said that his remarks were directed at U.S. policymakers, not the Mexican government or its people.
Trump defended his comments in the release announcing the lawsuit.
“I want strong borders, and I do not support or condone illegal immigration,” Trump said in the release. “There is a high level of crime occurring in this country due to unchecked illegal immigration. This is a major security issue for the United States. Additionally, the terrible trade deals our government is routinely entering into with Mexico are causing great harm to our country.”
Trump also said in the release: “I have great respect for Mexico and love for the Mexican people and their tremendous spirit! However, their leaders and trade negotiators are far smarter than those representing the United States, and our citizens and economy are suffering greatly as a result. We have to remedy the situation and do it fast. These have long been my views and I have the courage, unlike many others, to express them.”
The release claimed that before “violating the contract,” a high-ranking Univision executive called Trump and apologized, saying the company’s actions were wrong and they felt “ashamed.”
The network also said it would no longer air the annual Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, which had been a joint venture between the company and Trump. Miss USA has aired on NBC since 2003.
Trump’s reply was that a “weak” NBC should prepare to meet him in court.
The Miss USA pageant has also lost all of its co-hosts.
“Dancing with the Stars”’ Cheryl Burke and MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts said Tuesday they won’t take part in the July 12 pageant in response to Trump’s remarks.
Both co-hosts of the Univision telecast, Roselyn Sanchez and Cristian de la Fuente, also said they wouldn’t take part.
Trump has also been a fixture on NBC as host of “The Apprentice” and its celebrity offshoot, and an agreement that he would no longer be on the show predated the current controversy. The network said Monday that it and producer Mark Burnett are exploring ways to continue “Celebrity Apprentice” sans Trump.
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)