The Washington Post Responds to Covington Teenager’s Lawsuit

The Washington Post Responds to Covington Teenager’s Lawsuit April 10, 2019

Details from The Hollywood Reporter: 

The Washington Post has moved to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought by Kentucky teenager Nicholas Sandmann, who on Jan. 18 quickly found himself the talk of social media when a group of students at Covington Catholic High School came face-to-face with Native American activists at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial.

When observers saw a video clip of the confrontation, some focused on Sandmann, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and sporting a seemingly smug grin while watching Native American elder Nathan Phillips. In one of its first stories about the incident, The Washington Post quoted Phillips as saying he felt “threatened by the teens,” that they “swarmed around him” and one of them “blocked my way and wouldn’t allow me to retreat.”

A fuller video depicting what happened was much more ambiguous, and some who were initially critical of Sandmann apologized for snap judgments. The paper itself appended an editor’s note to its initial story. Nevertheless, Sandmann has filed lawsuits against both The Washington Post and CNN for what his attorney characterizes as “modern-day form of McCarthyism.”

In a dismissal motion filed Tuesday, The Washington Post stands by its coverage and says it is neither false nor defamatory to report comments by eyewitnesses, including participants speaking publicly about an event that went viral on the Internet.

“Newspapers are often unable to publish a complete account of events when they first come to light,” writes the paper’s lawyers. “Stories often develop over time, as more witnesses emerge.”

The Washington Post points a Kentucky federal judge to its entire coverage of the incident from the initial condemnation of students by the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School to a front-page story offering Sandmann’s perspective when he came forward to speak publicly about what happened.

“In short, the articles at issue may not have been flattering of the Covington Catholic students, but they do not give rise to a defamation claim by Sandmann,” continues the dismissal motion. “Indeed, the Post’s overall coverage — including the articles that the Complaint fails to mention — was not only accurate; it was ultimately favorable to him.”

Read more. 


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