The parents of Kentucky high schooler Nick Sandmann have filed a $250 million defamation suit against The Washington Post.
The suit seeks to provide compensation for damages in the paper’s coverage of a viral video which surfaced last month. The video showed Sandmann and other Covington High School students interacting with Nathan Phillips, a Native American activist, during the March for Life rally on January 18.
When the video surfaced, news outlets were quick to report on the “MAGA” hat-wearing teens, alleging that the teens were provoking Phillips. Upon release of a longer version of the video, however, it became clear the situation was not as cut and dry as was first reported. The controversy sparked national outrage on both sides of the aisle.
Once the full video was released, some news outlets began to walk back their previous statements.
Sandmann defended his actions. “I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand,” said Sandmann.
On February 19 the suit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Covington by Ted and Julie Sandmann on behalf of their son. The lead attorney is L. Lin Wood.
“In a span of three days in January of this year commencing on January 19, the Post 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 which attacked, vilified, and threatened Nicholas Sandmann, an innocent secondary school child,” reads the legal complaint.
The suit also places blame for the incident on a group of Hebrew Israelites seen in the video, claiming Philips was intimidated by the Israelites and instead chose to focus on the high schoolers.
Donald Trump tweeted about his support of the suit: “Covington student suing WAPO. Go get them Nick. Fake News!”
“The Washington Post ignored basic journalistic standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump.” Covington student suing WAPO. Go get them Nick. Fake News!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2019
The Washington Post told CNN that the paper is “reviewing a copy of the lawsuit and we plan to mount a vigorous defense.”
“Lin and Todd will continue to bring wrongdoers before the court to seek damages in compensation for the harm so many have done to the Sandmann family. This is only the beginning,” said prosecuting law firm Hemmer, DeFrank, and Wessels in a statement.