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Washington Post settles defamation lawsuit with Nick Sandmann over March for Life controversy

In a statement posted to Twitter on July 24, Sandmann thanked his lawyers, his family, as well as “millions of you who have stood your ground by supporting me.” He added that he “still has more to do.”

Nick Sandmann, a junior at the time at Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Ky., and other students from the school stand in front of Native American Nathan Phillips near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington in this still image from video Jan. 18, 2019. (CNS photo/Kaya Taitano, social media via Reuters)

Washington D.C., Jul 24, 2020 / 03:05 pm (CNA).- The Washington Post has settled a defamation lawsuit filed by Nick Sandmann, who as a student at Covington Catholic High School was at the center of a national controversy after the 2019 March for Life.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. In February 2019, Sandmann and his lawyers filed a defamation lawsuit requesting $250 million, the price Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos paid to purchase the newspaper in 2013.

In a statement posted to Twitter on July 24, Sandmann thanked his lawyers, his family, as well as “millions of you who have stood your ground by supporting me.” He added that he “still has more to do.”

In January 2020, Sandmann settled a defamation lawsuit against CNN. The terms of that settlement were not disclosed. There are six outstanding defamation lawsuits against other media companies, including the New York Times, ABC, NBC, and CBS.

The suit alleged that the Washington 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.” Sandmann was seeking “compensatory and punitive damages.”

The lawsuits stemmed from a short video that was published to Twitter in January 2019. That video appeared to show Sandmann, who was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, standing in close proximity to Native American activist Nathan Phillips and smirking while Phillips chanted and played a ceremonial drum.

Phillips was in Washington, D.C. for the Indigenous Peoples’ March, and the incident occurred near the Lincoln Memorial after the March for Life, which Sandmann had attended. Phillips told the media that the students had swarmed him, and had repeatedly chanted “build the wall” or “build that wall.”

The video quickly went viral, and many people called for the suspension or expulsion of Sandmann and his classmates as a punishment for their seemingly disrespectful behavior. Sandmann later explained that he had smiled in an attempt to come off as non-threatening.

As the weekend progressed, however, additional video was discovered that showed a far more nuanced context to the encounter between Phillips and Sandmann.

The new footage showed that Sandmann and his classmates had been harassed by members of the Black Hebrew Israelites, and began a counter-chant of their student section chants in an effort to drown out the Black Hebrew Israelites. The students denied chanting “build the wall,” and that chant could not be heard on various videos of the incident.

Additionally, the extended video showed that Phillips had wandered into the crowd of Covington Catholic High School students – not the other way around – and had begun beating a drum in Sandmann’s face.

A third-party investigation into the Covington Catholic students came to the conclusion that they had not instigated the encounter and that there was no evidence of them making any offensive or racist statements.

Both Covington Catholic High School and Bishop Roger Foys of Covington apologized for their premature statements condemning Sandmann’s behavior.


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2 Comments

  1. $250 million is a lot of money to most of us, but not to Jeff Bezos who, as it was reported last weekend, made $13 billion in just 15 minutes, according to Bloomberg. It is sad to think that he was able to buy the Washington Post for so little, considering he uses it to spread the fringe propaganda to so many people who believe every word. I pray that this young Sandmann puts this money and whatever he obtains from the other fake news conspirators, to very good use.

  2. These media outlets will only pay a pittance of what they ought in these settlements, which probably will include no concession of wrong doing. I don’t know if the defendants also include that talk show host who offered to pay a bounty to anyone who would physically attack Sandmann but there should be criminal charges there. But personally, I have very low expectations for those categories of people. The saddest thing to see was the attack on the boys by the bishop or their diocese, a real “et tu episcope” moment. That must have been devastating to them. I hope he confessed his appalling sin of rash judgement and contempt, and received a penance of one thousand rosaries.

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