The New York Times, Rolling Stone, ABC, and CBS’s motions to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought forward by teenager Nick Sandmann have all been denied, the 18-year-old announced on Twitter on Thursday.
Sandmann filed suits against a number of media entities after video footage surfaced of an incident in January 2019 which showed the Covington Catholic student, then 16, and his classmates standing outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
In the footage, the high school student can be seen standing opposite activist Nathan Phillips, a Native American, who was banging a drum while participating in an Indigenous Peoples March.
The edited clip that was widely circulated on social media showed Sandmann, who was in Washington for a “March For Life” rally, smiling at Philips as other students were seen in the background wearing MAGA hats while repeating school cheers. At the time, it was alleged that the Covington boys who appeared in the footage had harassed 64-year-old Philips.
However, further video footage that emerged later showed the students had themselves been on the receiving end of racist verbal attacks from a group of Black Hebrew Israelites, and that it was Philips who approached Sandmann and beat a drum within inches of his face.
Sandmann filed suits against The Washington Post and NBC Universal in March 2019 for $800 million in damages, alleging that the media outlets falsely attacked and bullied him. CNN settled the defamation lawsuit with Sandmann in January 2020 for an undisclosed amount. The Washington Post also settled the lawsuit with Sandmann in July 2020 for an undisclosed amount.
Lawyers for Sandmann had argued that the news outlets’ publications of statements from Phillips claiming that the teen had “stood in his way and blocked” him are false and amount to defamation.
Sandmann further alleged that the defendants failed to exercise “reasonable journalistic care” in determining whether Phillips’ statements should have been published at all.
As well as defamation, the suits allege emotional distress.
“Today marks another important step towards achieving justice against a media that thinks it has a license to smear,” Sandmann told The Post Millennial.
In August, Sandmann delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention, where he recounted the incident that saw him face backlash from mainstream media.
The teenager said, “My life changed forever in that one moment. The full war machine of the mainstream media revved up into attack mode. They did so without ever researching the full video of the incident; without ever investigating Mr. Philips’ motives; or without ever asking me for my side of the story.”
He continued, “And do you know why? Because the truth wasn’t important. Advancing their anti-Christian, anti-Conservative, anti-Donald Trump narrative was all that mattered. And if advancing their narrative ruined the reputation and future of a teenager from Covington, Kentucky… so be it. That will teach him not to wear a MAGA hat!”
The now-college freshman was subsequently hired by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign.
GQ Pan contributed to this report.