A Covington, Kentucky, high school student filed a massive defamation suit against the Washington Post on Tuesday, claiming the paper has targeted him with a disinformation campaign reminiscent of McCarthyism. The 16-year-old, Nicholas Sandmann, says the Post was the leader of an online and media mob which launched ferocious attacks on him after he was caught up in a demonstration in Washington, D.C. in January.
In a horrifying example of media bias, teenage student, Nicholas Sandmann, found himself elevated to the status of national villain in January after a confrontation at a Washington demonstration. Sandmann, who’d been in the capital with a group from his school, was portrayed as a racist who’d abused a Native American Vietnam vet — until the truth emerged. Several videos emerged, including one that showed 64-year-old Nathan Phillips telling the boy, “Go back to Europe” and trying to intimidate him by beating a drum inches from his face.
- When video of the confrontation first appeared, it focused on Sandmann, standing in front of Phillips and apparently smiling mockingly at him. The camera angles, editing and commentary portrayed Sandmann and his classmates, some of them wearing MAGA hats, as counter-protesters interfering with a Native American gathering.
- In fact, the Covington group had been in D.C. for a school activity. Teachers had arranged for them to meet the bus at the Lincoln Memorial for the trip home. Unfortunately, their scheduled pickup clashed with the Indigenous Peoples March, a Native American rights demonstration.
- Phillips, who was taking part in the march, claims he felt threatened by the schoolboys and that they blocked his path. Between that and the video, there was national outrage against the boys.
- However, within a few days, more video started to emerge showing a separate group of demonstrators, from the Black Hebrew Israelites, shouting racist abuse at the Covington students.
- Then footage appeared of Phillips forcing his way into the group of students, confronting Sandmann and beating a drum close to his face. Sandmann says he felt intimidated and his smile was an attempt to defuse the situation.
- Now he’s filed a lawsuit claiming that the Washington Post “ignored the truth and falsely accused Nicholas of, among other things, ‘accost[ing]’ Phillips by ‘suddenly swarm[ing]’ him in a ‘threaten[ing]’ and ‘physically intimidat[ing]’ manner.”
- According to the suit, the paper’s aim was to advance an anti-Trump agenda by smearing visible Trump supporters as racist. Whether that was their true intention or not, it’s clear that they’re guilty of an appalling failure of journalistic standards — and hopefully, damages against them will be a lesson to the rest of the media.