While the media often portray themselves as noble guardians of the truth who keep a close watch on those in power, the reality is quite the opposite: It is they who are in power and often swoop down to crush the powerless.
This was the case in the frenzy surrounding Nick Sandmann, a teenage student at Covington Catholic High School who donned a “Make American Great Again” hat and became cast as a national villain overnight.
On Tuesday, Sandmann enjoyed some measure of vindication. After suing multiple media outlets for libel, including the Washington Post, he confirmed that CNN had reached a settlement with him for damages and “emotional distress” caused by the network’s coverage of the viral incident that took place in 2019.
Yes, We settled with CNN.
— Nick Sandmann (@N1ckSandmann) January 7, 2020
The financial terms of Sandmann’s settlement were not disclosed.
In January 2019, a series of major media outlets published stories about a videotaped encounter he had with a Native American activist in Washington, D.C. That viral video proved to be highly deceptive, as was the media account about the incident, which painted a complex scene in simple terms.
It was a shameful example of media outlets rushing to fuel a preconceived narrative, recklessly pursuing a story with a high potential for “rage clicks” as well as high potential to permanently harm a teenager who never sought the public spotlight.
This story was fake news built on top of fake news, a leading example of why Americans have lost trust in media and journalists. It was Example A of how the media can fail to act with appropriate objectivity in the search to shine a light on those in power, and can instead be weaponized against the powerless who don’t have favored status in America’s elite newsrooms.
Celebrities, politicians, and social media mobs did the work of piling on to destroy a young person who had been carelessly dropped into the maelstrom.
Omaha elder and Vietnam War veteran Nathan Phillips endured hateful taunts with dignity and strength, then urged us all to do better.
Listen to his words: https://t.co/ymHRxVA91K
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) January 20, 2019
I am so deeply grieved and angry by this as young kids in MAGA hats surrounded and mocked a beloved Native American elder yesterday.
When your power is centered in your whiteness, mocking others who are unlike you makes you feel strong.
But it’s weak. And despicable. pic.twitter.com/38FtzGtowL
— Shaun King (@shaunking) January 19, 2019
In a now-deleted tweet, former CNN host Reza Aslan said that Sandmann had a “punchable face.”
The whole situation was a fine example of why the Founders distrusted unchecked democracy.
Crowds can easily be ginned up into a mob by false information, and as the frenzy peaks, the rights and very lives of individuals can be ruthlessly trampled on.
None of this would have happened if CNN and other outlets had been more cautious in their reporting on a story with such explosive potential. Instead, they were derelict.
They chose to push the tale that Sandmann acted in an aggressive and racist manner toward a Native American man, who simply wanted to protest peacefully and play music.
As my colleague, Katrina Trinko, wrote at the time: “Finally, [the media] had a piece of proof that supported their cherished narrative: that most Trump supporters were bigots and racists who backed the wall and other initiatives because of their racist views.”
Only after these stories were published, and the mobs had been armed with their digital pitchforks, did a slow trickle of information begin to reveal the reality of the situation.
With time, it became clear that the facts did not support the misleading initial reports and commentary.
Sandmann, it turns out, had not been the aggressor in the situation. The Native American man, Nathan Phillips, actually approached the teen after being egged on by a group of Black Hebrew Israelites, a black nationalist group, who had been yelling out racist and other derogatory comments, but were completely absent in the initial reporting.
In addition, many outlets initially reported (falsely) that Phillips was a “veteran,” which of course increased the rage toward Sandmann. That turned out not to be true after a review of his military records, which revealed that he had briefly been in the U.S. Marines, but never deployed.
In the end, the media’s forced story collapsed under the weight of evidence.
One would hope that the Covington fiasco would be a wake up call for the media, a “teachable moment.”
But given all of the other media follies in the last few years and a poor response to public criticism, it seems unlikely the media will change their ways.
To win back the public, media outlets need to ditch their preconceived narratives and work harder to find the truth.
Reprinted with permission from - The Daily Signal - by Jarrett Stepman
I am sad to see Amac, a trusted source of information, say that a veteran is not a veteran because he was not deployed. …. “In addition, many outlets initially reported (falsely) that Phillips was a “veteran,” which of course increased the rage toward Sandmann. That turned out not to be true after a review of his military records, which revealed that he had briefly been in the U.S. Marines, but never deployed.”
It is disrespectful of all veterans! And, it calls into question the trustworthiness of Amac.
Just wish viewership would drop dramatically on the mainstream media. That is the only way to stop their lies and distortions. Their bias is so obvious and their power to reach the ignorant so great. We need a boycott of advertisers who sell their products on their networks. They should be ashamed to identify themselves “professional journalists”.
This is dumb sue crazy America, the student stood there being a smart ass instead of walking away. He did not deserve one penny as he should not have done this at all. What is wrong with this country & being so sensitive over things
Good for you, Nick, so glad you at least received compensation for the ordeal that you were subjected to by the Media and other Trump haters. Money may not alleviate all your concerns over your treatment but it has brought one major network notice that they should be more careful before they make judgements about any situation. I wish you continued success in the other suits that you have brought against other networks and/or individuals.
I am very happy that CNN and other media outlets will be held responsible for their disgraceful coverage in trying to bring down Sandman. Now they have to pay the piper and justice has been served in favor of an innocent teenager.
Unbelievable! Lying, false reporting, ZERO integrity!
I think the author made an honest mistake. At the time, Phillips said (and media reported) that he was a “Vietnam vet.” This was false. He was confronted with this and changed his story to “Vietnam-era vet.” Still, the author should be more careful!
This young man and his family should be compensated for all their stress and the fact that CNN release false information which inspired radicals to go after the family on social media and etc. What happened to protecting our children from the media releasing names and personal information? I think CNN should have to apologize on prime time, financial compensate the family, and face criminal charges for releasing false information about a minor. It appears CNN is getting off easy.
Len Wood is just getting warmed up. I suppose that CNN will pay at least $50 million. Hundreds of other fake news outlets are being sued.
When this is completed five or six years from now, I think there will be a billion or more paid for this criminal slander. Hopefully, many of these
fake news outlets will collapse. Lesson: You can make a lot of money by wearing a MAGA cap.
The irresponsible MEDIA started this lie and once again, blamed the innocent while lauding the Liberal Haters. Eventually, the media’s lies will get someone killed. Regardless of how we get it, the News isn’t free, we pay for the information. Shouldn’t we hold an agency with so much POWER, responsible for their content? Shouldn’t we demand the TRUTH and reject opinions?
Go Nick!!! Hope you crotch kick the rest of the Fake News bxstxrds in their gonads!!! Kick them hard enough that they will end up singing soprano in the Vienna Boys Choir. Don’t settle for chump change — make them pay mega bucks for their evil proclivities. We, the American people, are with you all the way. Justice will prevail!
Aren’t CNN and the rest of the fake news networks licensed under the FCC? If so, why haven’t their licenses been pulled, this most certainly is not the America where I grew up. We went to church on Sundays, dinner was served at 6:00 O’clock sharp, we did our chores, our homework, and then maybe some popcorn and an hour of TV. We were taught to be honest, moral, we had integrity, and punished if we were caught lying. Men wore pants, and women wore dresses, there were but two sexes, and we were not racist, we were united. God Bless America! MAGA
If everyone who is a victim like Nick Sandmann was would immediately sue all of the media and everyone who repeats the narrative on social media, we could put them out of business in short order.
I’m so glad this turned out the way it did. I hope they had to pay him a fortune.
Liberals complain about a simple item such as cap. Bunch of hypocrites.
Good now get a good settlement from the congressman and others that called this guy all sorts of names and that includes the Indian hit this socialist communist we’re it hurts in the pocket books and hit then hard
WONDERFUL! AND I HOPE MORE LAW SUITS FOLLOW – THAT SHOULD TEACH YOU A. HOLES A LESSON! I’M SURE IT WON’T BC YOU HAVE NO BRAINS BUT BEWARE BC OTHERS WILL NOT HESITATE TO SUE! YAHOO!
I viewed this whole fiasco on the news and the young man and the other students weren’t at all aggressive toward Mr. Phillips. If anything the indian man was the aggressor It is a sad part of so-called journalism in the USA these days. Too much sensationalism in their so-called reporting. They are certainly biased against anyone who doesn’t agree with their ideology.
Media doesn’t care what the Americans think, they will continue to push their propaganda as long as the left keeps throwing money at them to keep it up!
CNN should learn from this (but probably not). These out of control medias need to be sued and often!