CNN Settles Defamation Suit Brought by Nick Sandmann

January 7, 2020 Updated: January 9, 2020
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CNN settled a defamation lawsuit brought against it by Nick Sandmann, a student at Covington Catholic High School, over the cable news channel’s coverage of an incident captured in a viral video.

“Yes, We settled with CNN,” Sandmann said in a Jan. 7 tweet.

The settlement amount wasn’t made public during the Jan. 7 court hearing in Covington, Kentucky, Fox19 reported.

“The case settled. We have no comment,” said Todd McMurtry, one of Sandmann’s lawyers, in an email to The Epoch Times.

CNN didn’t respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

The defamation suit was filed March 12, 2019, by Sandmann’s lawyers and demanded $275 million in damages, alleging that “CNN brought down the full force of its corporate power, influence, and wealth on Nicholas by falsely attacking, vilifying, and bullying him, despite the fact that he was a minor child.”

Covington Incident

The lawsuit stems from a Jan. 18, 2019, incident that took place after the March for Life anti-abortion event in Washington. Sandmann and other students from the religious private school in Kentucky were waiting for their bus near the Lincoln Memorial when they were approached by several Native American activists who were taking part in the Indigenous Peoples March at the Lincoln Memorial on the same day.

The encounter was extensively covered by media, initially using short video clips that made it appear as though the students were chanting and cheering in mockery of one of the activists, 64-year-old Nathan Phillips.

Some of the students were wearing hats with President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again”—a fact that was emphasized by various media.

CNN reported on the incident, allegedly using captions such as “Teens Taunt Native American Elder” and “Teens Harass Native American War Veteran.”

Longer video footage of the incident showed the students began to cheer and shout their school chant in response to offensive remarks being made to and about them by a small group nearby of Black Hebrew Israelites, a group known to have members expressing anti-white and anti-Semitic views.

While Phillips told media outlets that the students had surrounded and harassed him, the footage showed it was he who approached them, inserted himself into their crowd, and, for several minutes, banged his drum within inches of the face of Sandmann, who responded by standing silently with a smile.

43 Minutes

The suit alleged that CNN defamed Sandmann in at least four television broadcasts, nine online articles, and four Twitter posts.

“Contrary to its ‘Facts First’ public relations ploy, CNN ignored the facts and put its anti-Trump agenda first in waging a 7-day media campaign of false, vicious attacks against Nicholas,” the suit stated.

The network ran 43 minutes of coverage on the incident over the first two days, the Media Research Center (MRC), a right-leaning media watchdog, reported.

It took CNN a week to initially tell its viewers about the lawsuit, according to MRC.

Sandmann is also suing The Washington Post and NBC Universal for their coverage of the incident. In July 2019, a federal judge in Kentucky dismissed the suit against The Washington Post. However, part of that lawsuit was reinstated in October.

Update: The article has been updated with Nick Sandmann’s comment on Twitter and an email response from one of his lawyers, Todd McMurtry. The article has also been updated with information about Black Hebrew Israelites.

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