On Friday, a federal judge handed down a ruling that dismissed Nick Sandmann’s attorney's defamation lawsuit filed against The Washington Post.
Sandmann, as you may recall, was the young Covington Catholic High School teen who was in a viral video this past January, wearing a MAGA hat, and standing up to Native American activist bully Nathan Phillips.
Phillips was performing an American Indian Movement song, on the Lincoln Memorial Steps, and chose to approach the teen, get in his face, and then tell media outlets the teen was disrespectful, and drag the teen’s name through the mud.
According to Phillips, Sandmann and the other high schoolers with him, swarmed him. Phillips claimed he was trying to aid in the prevention of violence breaking out between the high school teens and another group present, the Hebrew Israelites.
Through all of his media interviews, Phillips played the victim. Whenever recounting his interaction with the teens, the Native American drummer would state "it was getting ugly…the man in the hat was in my way, and I needed to find myself an exit out…"
For months after the incident, everyone in media weighed in on the altercation. Multiple videos were shown, some in the entirety, such as on Fox News, others snipped to tell the story they wanted to tell, such as CNN. Analysts interjected hyperbole and experts went over the videos with a fine-tooth comb.
What came out was that Phillips did indeed approach the boy, got into his face, and when the boy didn't back down and smiled politely, media went crazy. It was a Catholic white boy against a Native American--and it was on!!
Now months later, after having filed a lawsuit against The Washington Post to the tune of $250 million, for "wrongfully targeting and bullying" him "because he was the white, Catholic student wearing a 'Make American Great Again' souvenir cap," Sandmann and his lawyers learned their case has been dismissed.
In the notes about his ruling, US District Judge William Bertelsman stated the First Amendment equally protected both Sandmann and Phillips statements, and that by The Washington Post publishing Phillips statements, they were not libel for what was said.
A separate lawsuit, filed by Sandmann’s lawyers, against CNN for $275 million in damages due their misguided coverage of the incident has yet to be ruled on.
So, what’s the verdict—you decide.
With the dismissal of Sandmann’s defamation case, will this make way for other such claims to be dismissed as well—will it set a precedent?