Justice for a Covington teen in a MAGA cap

Special to WorldTribune.com

By Bill Juneau

If there is one story you will seldom hear about, it is one the media doesn’t like because it goes against their own supposedly non-existent biases. But then, there are times when these stories sneak out.

In these intense political times, those stories which too often get consigned to media waste baskets often connect to President Trump and portray him in a positive manner — and the media simply cannot allow that to happen.

Nicholas Sandman, right. / International Family News

The New York Times, CNN, Washington Post and NBC are the captains and the worst offenders when it comes to burying news stories, although the practice is certainly not theirs alone. The lion’s share of the media, with very few exceptions, denounce the nation’s 45th President in every news cycle, and it makes no difference to them whether the story is true, false or “fair and accurate”

Recently, a news story leaked out that the Washington Post and CNN had settled multi-million dollar defamation suits filed against their companies by a Covington, Ky. high school teenager in a MAGA cap. It was not a report that the Post or other heavy voices in the media wanted to talk about, It was a story about telling lies to a gullible public.

The media giants had depicted the 16-year-old youth, Nicholas Sandmann, as a race-baiting young bigot, wearing the celebrated cap of a Trump supporter. The defamation arose from an incident in January, 2018, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.and it came back haunt them.

Young Sandmann was with a group from Covington Catholic High school in Kentucky which had journeyed to the nation’s capital to join in a Pro-Life and anti-abortion march. Later that afternoon, the group came together at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Plaza to view the monument to the nation’s 16th President who had signed the Emancipation Proclamation and freed the slaves.

In the mix of many tourists and observers, boyish-looking Sandmann was captured with a smile on his face on a video standing head to head with Nathan Phillips, a 64-year-old Native American activist who percussed a small drum in his hands and sang a Native American song. Sandmann stood still with a smile on his face, wearing the red MAGA cap which identified him as a supporter of the President, a few feet in front of Phillips.

The media, with the Post and CNN in the lead, took over from there and repainted the scene and gave it special racial spin after learning that the 64-year-old Phillips was a Viet Nam veteran. Sandmann was described as smiling, and smirking as the video went viral and rocketed about social media and the Internet. CNN and the Post and other media powerhouses, including NBC and the New York Times, ABC, CBS and Rolling Stones got in on the free for all against the teen with the hated red MEGA cap.

Covington school issued an apology for the conduct of its students, but retracted it after investigations showed that the native American was not telling the full story and had actually waded into Sandmann. Talking heads on TV said that Sandmann was “taunting” the ex-marine and another anchor woman remarked that the young Sandmann had a face that “needed to be punched.”

More investigations followed and confirmed that the incident was invented and blown up by the media into a racial confrontation, always highlighting the fact that Sandman and teen friends were wearing MAGA hats. At least seven phony stories ran in the Washington Post, it was alleged.

Attorney Lucian Lincoln “Lin” Wood, Atlanta attorney with credentials as a foremost defamation lawyer in the country, came aboard for the Sandmann family and filed a $250 million dollar suit against the Washington Post and a $275 million dollar suit against CNN. Wood is widely known for his representation of Richard Jewell, the security guard slandered and defamed by the media in the park bombing in Atlanta in 1996.

Last January, CNN settled the law suit with the Sandmann family and issued a statement that it was not admitting that it did anything wrong but that the litigation might go on too long and was too costly and unnecessary. The settlement amount was kept confidential, as was agreed to by the parties.

The Washington Post settled the litigation in recent days and the amount of the settlement was also kept confidential, and like CNN, no wrongdoing was admitted.
Wood said the Post settlement was a “gift of justice” to Nick Sandmann, now celebrating his 18th birthday.

Speculation as to the amount of the settlements is only that. It could be in the thousands, even in the millions. Off handed remarks by CNN that the settlement was insignificant may be a breach of the settlement agreement, said Wood. Such a breach could subject CNN to severe contract damages.

Defamation suits against other media companies are still pending.

Congratulations to Nicholas who was made into a poster boy for racism; and to his parents Ted and Julie who suffered through it all; and to his lawyers, Wood and Todd McMurtry. It was a gift of justice for Nick who was graduated in May from high school and just celebrated his 18th birthday, said Wood.

One thing we can take a pretty good guess about is that Nicholas, headed soon for college, will probably not need any student loans.

Bill Juneau worked for 25 years as a reporter and night city editor at the Chicago Tribune. Subsequently he became a partner in a law firm and also served as a village prosecutor and as a consultant to the Cook County Circuit Court and to the Cook County Medical Examiner. He is currently writing columns and the ‘Florida Bill‘ blog.