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'Media Mob of Bullies': Maligned Covington Catholic Student Suing Washington Post for $250M

02-20-2019
Covington Catholic student Nicholas Sandmann listens as Native American activist Nathan Phillips chants in his face. (Photo: Screen capture)

Attorneys for Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann who was maligned over a viral video last month have announced a lawsuit against The Washington Post

Lawyers are demanding $250 million in compensatory and punitive damages for multiple "false and defamatory articles" that garnered the attention of millions across the nation. 

The lawsuit states, "In a span of three days in January of this year commencing on January 19, the Post engaged in a modern-day form of McCarthyism by competing with CNN and NBC, among others, to claim leadership of a mainstream and social media mob of bullies which attacked, vilified, and threatened Nicholas Sandmann, an innocent secondary school child."

The lawsuit says The Washington Post used its vast financial resources "to enter the bully pulpit... to smear a young boy who was in its view an acceptable casualty in their war against the president."

The suit continues, "The Post ignored basic journalist standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented, biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump by impugning individuals perceived to be supporters of the President."

READ: Jussie Smollett's Alleged MAGA Attack in Question: Did Someone Stage a Fake Hate Crime? 

Now the lawyers say The Washington Post "ignored the truth" and "falsely accused Nicholas" of an attempt to physically intimidate a Native American activist named Nathan Phillips. 

Sandmann became a national target of political leaders, media organizations, and celebrities for the initial false portrayal. In a short video from January, Sandmann is seen wearing a red "Make America Great Again" while standing face-to-face with Phillips. He was accused of starting a confrontation, but other videos identified a radical group called the Black Hebrew Israelites had become the initial cause of the altercation by yelling slurs at the Catholic school students. The boys began chanting school cheers as they waited for their bus, to drown out the vile comments being shouting at them. That's when Phillips walked right into the middle of the situation.

Video of the incident reveals Phillips had walked into the middle of the crowd of boys, beating his drums in their faces. He then paused and stood right in front of Sandmann.

Sandmann explained in the aftermath that he had attempted to defuse the escalating situation after Phillips walked into his group, banging his drum and chanting in his face. Sandmann stood there quietly, saying afterward that he was just trying to be respectful, but media reports accused him of blocking Phillips in an alleged racist incident against the Native American activist.

Meanwhile, it's not just the Washington Post that's in trouble. News reports indicate Sandmann's attorneys sent letters to more than 50 media organizations, celebrities and politicians, including The Post, The New York Times, CNN, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), which could signal further libel and defamation lawsuits.

Sandmann, his family, and many other students and families from Covington Catholic faced severe stress after the false reports, including death threats, job threats, and a withering nationwide social media backlash over the accusations against them. The school had to be temporarily closed for security concerns.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington hired investigators to determine whether the students were at fault. The final report concluded the students were not at fault for the confrontation.

 

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