Former Covington High School student Nicholas Sandmann has now settled two of six defamation lawsuits he filed after the media unfairly savaged him over a heavily edited video that went viral in 2019. But unable to admit fault and move on with a modicum of grace, incautious cable news network personality Brian Stelter may be in breach of confidentiality after tweeting about the settlement. This begs the question as to whether the mainstream media have learned any lesson after descending to the sordid low in journalism this story represented.
Liberty Nation‘s Sarah Cowgill reported the event that shaped this media-wide pile-on in January 2020, at the time Sandmann’s settlement with CNN was made public:
“Sandmann and his classmates were in Washington to participate in the March for Life event. While visiting the Lincoln Memorial, the boys came across Nathan Phillips, Omaha Tribe elder, who was also in DC for Indigenous Peoples March. One heavily edited video showing Sandmann in a MAGA hat standing face-to-face with Phillips labeled the kid in perpetuity as a white supremacist staring down an old Native American. But that video doesn’t tell the whole tale. Still, corporate media went hog wild, bashing the kid on every channel and in every major daily.”
Sandmann and his family suffered a deluge of doxing and death threats at the time. And representatives from his school, Covington Catholic High in Park Hills, KY, quickly condemned him based on the false narrative spoon-fed to the public – that MAGA-hat-wearing Sandmann and his peers were white supremacists and racists provoking a peaceful elder from a Native American tribe. The sheer centrifugal force of the media spin was enough to fling the truth of the encounter to the far fringes of the news cycle, only later to be recovered when a full-length video emerged.
Sandmann hired counsel and proceeded to file suit against the many liberal-leaning news outlets that had slandered him in their efforts to torch all things Trump. The ruthless attacks leveled against a child were so disgraceful and without precedent, it seemed a genuine reckoning might result. But those reasonably expecting mea culpas were sorely disappointed as the cadre of weaponized news outlets responsible for the shameless thuggery visited on Sandmann simply shrugged, circled the wagons, and moved on.
In January 2020, Sandmann settled his first suit against CNN for an undisclosed sum, and now he has settled with The Washington Post, with the dollar amount again kept secret, as per the resolution agreement. However, unable to show restraint on social media when he fell victim to the uniquely modern problem of posting while self-righteous, CNN host Brian Stelter appears to have violated the terms of his company’s settlement when he retweeted a conjecture about the amount being modest at best or a “nuisance value settlement and nothing more.”
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley expressed shock at Stelter’s lack of empathy for a maligned youth who was 16 years old at the time he was strafed by every major mainstream media outlet for lies perpetuated about him. No fan of Trump, Turley nevertheless blasted one of the president’s loudest detractors when he went after Stelter’s brazen tribal retweet, opining that the CNN host could find himself in “hot water” and that “this could prove a couple of costly tweets for the company.”
The petty tyrants of mainstream media are becoming increasingly despotic and dedicated to decimating dissent from approved narratives. Nothing of lasting value has been learned by the Fourth Estate from this dark chapter. That a Catholic boy was the subject of such blunt-force calumny suggests we are becoming desensitized to all manner of cruelties in the age of division. Often the law is something we hold our nose at and countenance rather than celebrate. In this instance, however, celebration is due, as the law made right an egregious wrong and served to promote the defense of the innocent.
And Sandmann isn’t done yet. After The Post settlement was made public, he tweeted, “the fight isn’t over … two down six to go” and even ran a flag up the pole with a blue bird on it, writing “don’t hold your breath, @jack” in reference to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
As this unlikely David fixes another stone in his sling, media Goliaths are officially on notice.
Read more from Pennel Bird.