March 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – CNN is the next major media organization to face a defamation suit over its coverage over the Catholic Kentucky high school students captured on a viral video at January’s March for Life.
Immediately following January’s March for Life in Washington, D.C., the press erupted with claims that a video showed boys from Covington Catholic High School harassing Nathan Phillips, a Native American activist, outside the Lincoln Memorial. But additional extended video and firsthand accounts soon revealed that Phillips was the one who waded into the group waiting for its bus and decided to beat a drum inches from junior Nick Sandmann’s face, while members of the Black Hebrew Israelites fringe group shouted racial taunts at the kids.
Last month, an independent investigation commissioned by the Diocese of Covington (which had initially condemned the boys) cleared the students of wrongdoing, confirming the above details and that the teens had merely attempted to drown out the harassment directed at them with school cheers.
Many who ran with the original narrative just as quickly deleted their initial condemnations, but as some try to keep it alive, attorneys representing the students have threatened to sue numerous media figures and Phillips himself for defamation. Sandmann’s attorneys previously filed a $250 million lawsuit against the Washington Post, and now they are suing CNN for at least as much, Fox News reports.
“CNN was probably more vicious in its direct attacks on Nicholas than The Washington Post. And CNN goes into millions of individuals' homes,” Sandmann attorney L. Lin Wood told Fox host and conservative commentator Mark Levin Sunday evening.
“They really went after Nicholas with the idea that he was part of a mob that was attacking the Black Hebrew Israelites, yelling racist slurs at the Black Hebrew Israelites. Totally false,” Wood continued. “If you took the time to look at the full context of what happened that day, Nicholas Sandmann did absolutely nothing wrong. He was, as I've said to others, he was the only adult in the room. But you have a situation where CNN couldn't resist the idea that here's a guy with a young boy, that Make America Great Again cap on. So they go after him.”
“The CNN folks were online on Twitter at 7 a.m retweeting the little one-minute propaganda piece that had been put out,” he argued. “They're out there right away going after this young boy. And they maintain it for at least two days. Why didn't they stop and just take an hour and look through the Internet and find the truth and then report it? Maybe do that before you report the lies.”
Conservative media critics have cited multiple examples of hostile coverage and commentary from CNN personalities on the story.
Among them: left-wing actress and former contributor Kathy Griffin tweeting, “Name these kids. I want NAMES. Shame them. If you think these f***ers wouldn’t dox you in a heartbeat, think again”; host Chris Cuomo accusing Sandmann of escalating the situation “into a standoff” that Phillips “apparently wanted to diffuse,” and claiming the students were “victims of their own choices and actions”; and correspondent Sara Sidner claiming after Sandmann issued his explanation of events that he did “not look like someone who is appreciative and considerate of this culture and this chant going on.”
Last week, the Washington Post issued an “editor’s note” acknowledging some inaccuracies in its original coverage, but without a formal retraction or apology. This attempt to “whitewash its wrongdoing” was “too little and too late,” Sandmann’s legal team responded.
On Sunday, Wood told Levin the suit against CNN should be formally issued today or tomorrow, and that he expects to seek higher damages than from the Washington Post.
“The Post was $50 million for the reputational damage … $200 million in punitive damages – punitive damages are designed to punish and to deter,” he explained. “I would think the punitive-damage award against CNN that we’ll seek will be at least the same $200 million as it was against The Washington Post. But the compensatory damage to Nicholas's reputation, that number I expect will be higher.”