The Slatest

Report That MAGA Teen Was Invited to White House Appears to Have Been False, Indicating That Perhaps There Is a God

Sandmann, who is wearing a Make America Great Again hat, smiles at Phillips.
Nicholas Sandmann and Nathan Phillips near the Lincoln Memorial on Jan. 18.

Nicholas Sandmann, the Kentucky high-school student whose Jan. 18 confrontation with a Native American activist at the Lincoln Memorial has become a viral Rorschach test for how you feel about all of American society, will speak publicly about the incident for the first time in a Today show interview to be broadcast Wednesday:

Fox News host Laura Ingraham, meanwhile, reported Tuesday that multiple students from Sandmann’s school (Covington Catholic) had been invited to the White House for an event that would take place as early as Wednesday—but has since backed off in the wake of multiple White House reporters who say that no such invitation has been made:

In any case, it would not be surprising if Donald Trump eventually celebrated the Covington students in an official capacity; the president tweeted Tuesday morning that Sandmann and his classmates had been falsely accused of inappropriate behavior by an online lynch mob, a talking point that has been promoted relentlessly on the right (and by Sandmann himself in a statement) in the days since the first video of Sandmann smirking at Native American protester Nathan Phillips circulated. (The premise of the argument is that the students were simply engaging in school-spirit chants when Phillips approached them and that Sandmann was actually trying to defuse the situation by standing motionless in front of him. It’s a narrative that’s undermined by video evidence that Covington students mocked Phillips en masse with a “tomahawk chop” chant before he came close to Sandmann, as well as by another video which appears to show individuals in the students’ group harassing women who were in the area for the weekend Women’s March.* There’s also the fact that Sandmann, who was wearing a hat made famous by a president who can’t name any Native American except Pocahontas, probably could have managed to get out of the slow-moving elderly Native man’s way if he really wanted to avoid confrontation. But I guess your mileage may vary.)

Note: The video of a group of students harassing women in the area was posted by a woman who identified the boys in it as Covington Catholic students and wrote that she is sure they include individuals in the group that was involved in the confrontation with Phillips. The Lincoln Memorial can be seen in the woman’s video, and the apparel of several of the boys depicted in it appears to be the same as that worn by individuals in the Phillips/Covington Catholic video.

*Correction, Jan. 23, 2019: This sentence originally linked to video of a young male individual standing with the Covington group who shouts, “It’s not rape if you enjoy it.” After that, though, another person tells the camera that the shouter is not a Covington student, and when the mass of Covington students are shown leaving the area, that individual stays behind. As such, we’ve removed the reference to his comment.