Covington Catholic High Student Nick Sandmann Sues NBC for $275 Million

Covington Catholic High Student Nick Sandmann Sues NBC for $275 Million
Nick Sandmann from Covington Catholic High School stands in front of Native American activist Nathan Phillips while the latter bangs a drum in his face in Washington on Jan. 18, 2019. (Kaya Taitano via Reuters)
Mimi Nguyen Ly

Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann is filing a defamation lawsuit against NBCUniversal for $275 million, one of his lawyers, Todd V. McMurty, announced on May 1.

“The facts of the suit show the anti-Trump narrative NBC pushed so hard,” McMurty wrote in a Twitter post.

“NBCUniversal created a false narrative by portraying the ‘confrontation’ as a ‘hate crime’ committed by Nicholas,” the lawsuit read.

According to the suit, Sandmann was “an easy target for NBCUniversal to advance its anti-Trump agenda because he was a 16-year-old white, Catholic student who had attended the Right to Life March that day and was wearing a MAGA cap at the time of the incident which he had purchased earlier in the day as a souvenir.”

The suit added: “In addition to its substantial broadcast television and online audience, NBCUniversal republished many of its false and defamatory broadcasts and articles to NBC News’ approximately 6.45 million Twitter followers; to MSNBC’s approximately 2.37 million Twitter followers; to the TODAY Show’s approximately 4.28 million Twitter followers; to NBC Nightly News’ approximately 971,000 Twitter followers; and to the over 2.5 million Twitter followers of the 11 NBC Owned and Operated Stations.”

This is the third major lawsuit Sandmann’s legal team has launched. The team, L. Lin Wood and Todd McMurtry, has already filed similar defamation suits against The Washington Post for $250 million and CNN for $275 million.
McMurtry said The Washington Post was targeted first because “it was first out of the gate”—one of the first major media to perpetuate the inaccurate portrayal of the events.
CNN was targeted next, he said, because of the significant reach of the network, which aired at least four broadcasts and ran nine online articles defaming Sandmann, according to the complaint.
McMurty previously said that HBO and The Associated Press may be next in line to be sued.

Incorrect Reports

The 16-year-old Sandmann was at the center of a slew of stories that claimed he and other students harassed Native American and anti-President Donald Trump activist Nathan Phillips during a Jan. 18 incident. The stories triggered a number of threats against the students. At the time, short videos of Sandmann, who was wearing a MAGA hat, standing face-to-face with Phillips at the Lincoln Memorial, had gone viral.

Due to its short length, the video made it appear that Sandmann and his classmates had confronted Phillips who was chanting and beating a drum. Phillips told media outlets that the students had confronted and harassed him.

Sandmann was then trashed by prominent figures like actor Jim Carey, actress Alyssa Milano, Senator Elizabeth Warren; media organizations like the New York Times and the Washington Post; and many others.

But a longer version of the video showed that it was actually Phillips who had approached the 16-year-old, who had then responded by standing still and smiling.

After the longer, 15-minute video emerged, many that were initially against Sandmann issued apologies, retractions, or simply deleted tweets.

The longer video paints a picture with more context than the short viral video clip that led to the initial outrage. It shows how an Indigenous Peoples March took place at the same time as an anti-abortion March for Life that Sandmann was attending. The video shows Black Hebrew Israelites spewing racial slurs at Native Americans seemingly there to attend the march. They were also seen directing racial slurs and using abusive language towards other black people who were passing by.

Then, as a few more Covington high schoolers wander over, and are also met with racial abuse from the Hebrew Israelite men.

“Bring ya’ll cracker [expletive] up here and make a statement. Tell ‘em come over here in the lion’s den. You little dirty [expletive] crackers, your day comin.’”

Epoch Times reporters Colin Fredericson, Tom Ozimek and Petr Svab contributed to this report