The Slatest

Kentucky Student in Viral Standoff With Native American Activist Now Sues CNN for Defamation

A screengrab from the viral video showing Nick Sandmann standing in front of veteran Nathan Phillips in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 18.
A screengrab from the viral video showing Nick Sandmann standing in front of veteran Nathan Phillips in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 18.
Youtube

The Kentucky high school student at the center of a standoff with a Native American man that went viral, sparking a national debate about race and class, filed a defamation suit against CNN Tuesday seeking $275 million in damages. Attorneys for Covington Catholic student Nicholas Sandmann accused the network of portraying the 16-year-old as the face of a racist mob of students, many of whom were wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats after an anti-abortion rally on the mall that day. Early footage of the confrontation showed the high school students seemingly provoking the Native American protesters, but later, more complete footage muddied that narrative. Citing four televised broadcasts and nine online articles as evidence of defamation, the suit said “CNN’s agenda-driven fiction about Nicholas and the January 18 incident was not only false and defamatory, it created an extremely dangerous situation by knowingly triggering the outrage of its audience and unleashing that outrage.”

“In short, the false and defamatory gist of CNN’s collective reporting conveyed to its viewers and readers that Nicholas was the face of an unruly hate mob of hundreds of white racist high school students who physically assaulted, harassed, and taunted two different minority groups engaged in peaceful demonstrations, preaching, song, and prayer,” the suit states. “The CNN accusations are totally and unequivocally false and CNN would have known them to be untrue had it undertaken any reasonable efforts to verify their accuracy before publication of its false and defamatory accusations.”

Last month, Sandmann filed suit against the Washington Post for its coverage of the altercation on the National Mall, seeking damages of $250 million in order, the suit stated, to “teach the Post a lesson it will never forget.”