Nick Sandmann, the “Make America Great Again” hat-toting 16-year-old from Kentucky seen in a series of January videos that showed him smiling among a crowd of his dancing, laughing peers as he was approached by an Indigenous drummer near the Lincoln Memorial, is suing the Washington Post.
Sandmann, a student at Covington Catholic High School, is suing the newspaper for $250 million in damages, alleging that it engaged in a “modern-day form of McCarthyism by competing with CNN and NBC, among others, to claim leadership of a mainstream and social media mob of bullies,” according to legal documents posted online by lawyers Lin Wood and Todd McMurtry.
Said parties “attacked, vilified and threatened” Sandmann, according to the lawsuit.
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The Post claimed that Sandmann instigated the Jan. 18 encounter when it “conveyed that Nicholas engaged in acts of racism by ‘swarming'” Indigenous veteran Nathan Phillips, “‘blocking’ his exit away from the students and otherwise engaging in racist misconduct,” the lawsuit said.
“The Post ignored basic journalist standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented, biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump by impugning individuals perceived to be supporters of the president.”
The newspaper carried out a “campaign to target Nicholas in furtherance of its political agenda,” the lawsuit alleged.
And it did this by “using its vast financial resources to enter the bully pulpit by publishing a series of false and defamatory print and online articles which effectively provided a worldwide megaphone to Phillips and other anti-Trump individuals and entities to smear a young boy who was in its view an acceptable casualty in their war against the president,” it added.
The lawsuit further alleged that the Post “bullied an innocent child with an absolute disregard for the pain and destruction its attacks would cause to his life.”
The Sandmanns are now seeking $200 million in punitive damages and $50 million in compensatory damages — the same amount, the lawsuit noted, that “Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, paid in cash for the Post when his company, Nash Holdings, purchased the newspaper in 2013.”
The lawsuit was filed “by and through his parents” Ted and Julie Sandmann in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Kentucky.
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For its part, The Washington Post issued a statement saying that it is “reviewing a copy of the lawsuit and we plan to mount a vigorous defense.”
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The encounter at the Lincoln Memorial unfolded on Jan. 18, on the day that the March for Life was taking place in Washington, D.C.
Video that emerged from the day initially showed Sandmann and Philips standing face to face. Sandmann smiled and his classmates appeared to laugh and chant while Phillips drummed before him.
Sandmann claimed in a January statement that he was called “every name in the book” after the video was released, that people described him as a “racist” and added that he would “not stand for this mob-like character assassination of my family’s name.”
However, subsequent video gave the scene a wider context, showing the encounter unfolding after a group that appeared to be linked to the Hebrew Israelites shouted profane insults at students gathered before the Lincoln Memorial.
This same group appeared to hurl insults at a group of Indigenous people.
Sandmann said that the students were being called “racists,” “white crackers” and “incest kids,” and that they were given permission by a chaperone to counter those alleged taunts with school chants.
Those chants led Phillips and another man to approach the teens in an effort to keep peace at the scene.
Phillips said he heard chants of “build that wall”; Sandmann’s January statement said he never heard any students chant this.
Sandmann said he was helping to defuse the situation “by remaining motionless and calm.”
“I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict,” he said in January.