No-one is above the law. This was probably the most overused phrase of 2019. Whether it is true or not is certainly open to debate, but one formally great American institution – the media – has discovered that, contrary to what it appeared to believe, it is not above the law. Nick Sandmann, a student at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, was falsely maligned by several media outlets as a racist who, in January 2019, confronted and obstructed a Native protester at the Washington Monument. Sandmann sued CNN for defamation. After failing to have the case dismissed, the news network settled with the student for an undisclosed but likely substantial sum.
In all likelihood, CNN wanted to avoid the public exposure of what was almost certainly a deliberate campaign to falsely paint Sandmann as some kind of white supremacist. During the confrontation in the nation’s capital, the young man had been wearing the iconic, red “Make America Great Again” cap associated with President Donald Trump. In the eyes of the leftist media, anyone who wears this cap is a racist.
Sandmann’s legal team was not playing around, and, had the case gone forward, CNN might well have faced enormous embarrassment. After all, when the story went viral, there was an abundance of video evidence that Sandmann was neither the aggressor in the confrontation nor was he saying or doing anything at all that could be construed as racially motivated. It is not unreasonable to suspect that internal CNN communications demonstrating intent to conceal or pervert the truth of what happened would have been exposed.
Determined to paint the student as a racist, CNN and other news organizations presented a deliberately one-sided perspective of events in Washington. In recent decades, the ever-more politicized media has engaged in the routine deception of the American public in order to advance a political and social agenda – hence the now-popular term “fake news.”
Opinion Presented as Fact
At the heart of Sandmann’s suit, though, was the question of whether publicly labeling someone a racist is defamatory. There may be no standard yes or no answer to that question, but CNN attempted to have the case against it dismissed on the grounds that calling someone a racist “offers an expression of opinion so subjective as to be unprovable.”
The problem, for the left-wing establishment media is that they long ago set themselves up to be hoisted by their own petard, to borrow from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. When certain individuals in the media, such as CNN’s Don Lemon or countless other anchors, columnists, and contributors, call people they disagree with “racist,” “homophobic,” or any of these other overused, derogatory terms, they are not clarifying that the accusations are opinions – rather, they are stating those accusations as fact; assertions that are, for any reasonable person, not open to dispute.
Certain media organizations portrayed Sandmann as a racist and did so as if presenting to the public an indisputable fact. These media frauds are not reporting events and leaving it to their readers or their audience to form opinions, they are telling the public what to think.
At a Democratic Party primary debate on July 31, 2019, for example, Lemon – who was one of the debate moderators – asked one of the candidates what he would do to heal the divide which “has been stoked by the president’s racist rhetoric.” Posing another question, later in the debate, Lemon referred to “the president’s bigotry.”
These are just two of many examples of partisan media figures stating personal opinions as fact. It is accepted that politicians and other public figures, such as athletes or celebrities, do not generally sue media companies for slander or libel. When one’s life is almost entirely in the public spotlight, one is constantly at the mercy of one’s critics, but, when a news organization falsely accuses a private citizen, it should be held accountable. The First Amendment protects the media from government repression but not from being hauled into a courtroom for defaming an ordinary citizen.
Legal technicalities aside, CNN has an ethics problem, here, as Lawyer Charles Glasser – who teaches media ethics – told The Daily Signal: “So you’ve got this political, societal section that says that being a racist is bad … and at the same time they go into court and say it’s not provably true, calling somebody a racist. I find that stunning.”
What motivates these corporate media elites? Liberty Nation’s Sarah Cowgill asks the question: “Is it the oft quoted ‘if it bleeds it leads?’ Or perhaps, as a majority of the nation believes, it’s just fake news meant to incite racial discord.”
Will the Media Finally Be Held Accountable?
Very often, such as in the case of the Jussie Smollett hate crime hoax, the politically-biased media will jump on a story that appears to support the narrative they wish to promote. They will either ignore facts and evidence that contradict that narrative, or they will not even attempt to uncover that evidence.
It is nothing less than rank cowardice: Rather than present all the facts and all the angles, leaving the consumer to decide for themselves what really happened and to form their own opinions regarding underlying motivations, these hacks will mold a story into what they want it to be, in an attempt to force the public to accept one particular version of events.
This is what happened with Sandmann. His media critics did not suggest that he might harbor racial animosity; with straight faces, they told the public that this young man was a racist. Sandmann is also suing NBC and The Washington Post. Additionally, Todd McMurtry, who is part of the legal team representing the student, told Fox News that lawsuits against “as many as 13 other defendants will be filed in 30 to 40 days.” Potential defendants include ABC, CBS, NPR, Slate, The Hill, The Huffington Post, The Cincinnati Inquirer, and one British newspaper, The Guardian.
It seems very likely that, as these suits move forward, the question of whether there really is a definite and deliberate media bias against conservatives will be settled beyond a doubt. This author firmly believes that the bias, suspected by many, is real – but that is only an opinion.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.