The leader in fake news decided to cut its losses and settle a $275 million lawsuit brought by Covington Catholic high school student Nick Sandmann for malicious coverage.
Scurrilous and biased media outlets had operated with impunity under a precedent established by the U.S. Supreme Court that insulated them from liability. The false reporting and character assassination its celebrity television stars heaped on teenager Nick Sandmann appeared to be the tipping point. Responsible journalists and Americans who respect family values anticipated the courts would finally hold CNN and its biased industry colleagues accountable. CNN blinked and wrote a check rather than face judicial review for its misdeeds.
“CNN brought down the full force of its corporate power, influence, and wealth on Nicholas by falsely attacking, vilifying, and bullying him despite the fact that he was a minor child,” Sandmann’s attorney Todd V. McMurtry states in the March 2019 lawsuit. “Contrary to its ‘Facts First’ public relations ploy, CNN ignored the facts and put its anti-Trump agenda first in waging a 7-day media campaign of false, vicious attacks against Nicholas, a young boy who was guilty of little more than wearing a souvenir Make America Great Again cap.”
A non-violent confrontation took place while Covington Catholic high school students were waiting to get picked up after a March for Life on the National Mall. Wearing MAGA hats, the boys became the target of harassment from a range of so-called “counter-protestors,” including Native American rabble-rouser Nathan Phillips. Despite video streaming on social media that proved Phillips approached and got in the teen’s face, outlets including NBC, the Washington Post, and CNN painted Sandmann as the aggressor. Phillips is seen in lengthy videos pounding a drum and chanting in the boy’s face. The Covington students chanted positive messages in response to being confronted. Sandmann stood silent and smiled at what appears to be an attempt to elicit a negative reaction.
“As far as standing there, I had every right to do so. My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips. I respect him. I’d like to talk to him. I mean, in hindsight, I wish we could have walked away and avoided the whole thing. But I can’t say that I’m sorry for listening to him and standing there,” Sandmann reportedly said. “In hindsight, I wish we had just found another spot to wait for our buses, but at the time, being positive seemed better than letting them slander us with all of these things.”
While CNN has a troubling history of jumping to conclusions based on its left-wing partisan bias, the fake news outlet decided to circle the wagons rather than apologize and issue a correction in the days following the incident. The network brought Phillips on-air and allowed him to spin a tale that directly contradicted beginning-to-end footage of the events in the nation’s capital. The network’s television personalities failed to challenge the basic incorrect facts in Phillip’s narrative that positioned him as a victim and the high schoolers as aggressive Trump-supporting racists. Only impartial outlets, conservative Americans, and the school stood behind the students as many attempted to trash their good names.
“Our students were placed in a situation that was at once bizarre and even threatening,” Covington Bishop Roger J. Foys reportedly said. “Their reaction to the situation was, given the circumstances, expected and one might even say laudatory.”
Settling the case brought by the targets of their hatred of the president, conservatives, and pro-life Americans demonstrates more than CNN’s guilt. It allows the liberal propaganda wing to sidestep what could be an end of outdated protections for journalists who deliberately mislead.
In 1964, the high court held in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan that publications could not be held liable for putting forward false facts. A First Amendment standard was set that only in instances where actual malice or prior knowledge that statements are false, reckless, and intended to harm can an outlet be held responsible. As CNN’s Oliver Darcy reportedly said of the settlement, it “will allow CNN to avoid a lengthy and potentially unpredictable trial.”
Given the fake news media has long ago crossed that threshold, CNN apparently ponied up out of fear that hundreds of its victims would file suit. Now, a lengthy list of other fake news outlets have decisions of their own to make. That’s because Sandmann’s attorney is just getting started.
“The case against NBC and the Washington Post continues, and there are a number of additional defendants that we will be suing over the next 30 to 60 days,” McMurtry reportedly said. “The defendants are those that republished Nathan Phillips’s false statements.”