Today, U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman threw out the defamation case filed by Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann and his family against the far-left Washington Post for the mischaracterization of the pro-life teenager. Nick Sandmann was part of a group of boys who traveled from Kentucky to attend the pro-life march in D.C. in January. Sandmann and many of his fellow students were wearing Trump MAGA hats and standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as they waited for their bus to take them home, when fake Vietnam war veteran and Native American Nathan Phillips targeted the boys, zeroing in on Sandmann, as he banged a drum in his face. Phillips was part of a group who attended the Indigenous Peoples’ March on the same day as the March For Life.
In February, President Trump joined the parents of the 16-year-old Covington Catholic student, Nick Sandmann and their law firm in the condemnation of the Washington Post, who, according to their high-powered lawyer, L. Lin Wood, of L. Lin Wood P.C., in Atlanta, GA, “bullied an innocent child.”
President Trump reacted to the lawsuit this morning on Twitter, by using a quote from the lawsuit: “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!
“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 lawsuit, which was filed in February, sought $250 million in damages and accused the Post of practicing “a modern-day form of McCarthyism” by targeting Sandmann and “using its vast financial resources to enter the bully pulpit by publishing a series of false and defamatory print and online articles … to smear a young boy who was in its view an acceptable casualty in their war against the president.”
Hemmer, DeFrank and Wessels Attorneys at Law group filed a massive $250 million lawsuit against the anti-Trump publication owned by Amazon owner, Jeff Bezos. In their lawsuit, they accused the Washington Post of ignoring “basic journalist standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented, biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump (“the President”) by impugning individuals perceived to be supporters of the President.” They also accused the anti-Trump publication of “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.
The lawsuit claimed the Post falsely labeled Sandmann a racist by publishing articles that “falsely accused Nicholas of … ‘accost[ing]’ Phillips by ‘suddenly swarm[ing]’ him in a ‘threaten[ing]’ and ‘physically intimidat[ing]’ manner … ‘block[ing]’ Phillips path, refusing to allow Phillips ‘to retreat,’ ‘taunting the dispersing indigenous crowd,’ [and] chanting, ‘Build that wall,’ ‘Trump2020,’ or ‘Go back to Africa.'”
Sandmann’s lawsuit was based on seven articles and three Tweets that appeared on The Post’s website and social media pages after the incident. President Trump supported the lawsuit when it was filed, tweeting: “Covington student suing WAPO. Go get them Nick. Fake News!”
Judge Bertelsman said in the ruling that he accepted Sandmann’s contention that “when he was standing motionless in the confrontation with Phillips, his intent was to calm the situation…”
In a 36-page ruling, U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman noted that the Post never mentioned Sandmann by name in its initial coverage of the incident, referring only to groups of “hat-wearing teens.” Bertelsman added that “the words used contain no reflection upon any particular individual” and thus could not be constituted as defamation. The judge also ruled that the newspaper used language that was “loose, figurative,” and “rhetorical hyperbole” which is protected by the First Amendment.
Sandmann and the Covington students were initially accused of initiating the confrontation with Phillips, but other videos and the students’ own statements showed that they were verbally accosted by a group of black street preachers who were shouting insults both at them and a group of Native Americans. Sandmann and Phillips have both said they were trying to defuse the situation.