News & Politics

Maligned MAGA Hat Teen Sues Washington Post for $250 Million

Lawyers for Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann have filed a lawsuit against the Washington Post seeking $250 million in both compensatory and punitive damages.

In a statement on their website, attorneys L. Lin Wood and Todd McMurtry said they “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.”

“Every journey starts with a first step,” Wood, an Atlanta-based attorney who specializes in aggressive defamation suits against the media, wrote on Twitter. “The journey to achieve justice for Nick Sandmann will begin today. To borrow a phrase used by others — tick tock . . .”

In the plaintiff’s complaint, the lawyers argue that the Post led the mainstream media stampede to “assassinate Nicholas’ character and bully him” with an article that was published at approximately 1:37 p.m. on January 19. The lawyers argue that following the Post’s inaccurate coverage of the incident, a mob that included “other members of the mainstream media, individuals tweeting on Twitter, church officials, celebrities, and politicians” piled on.

This story was not “hot” or “breaking news.” To the extent the Post performed any investigation at all into what occurred, its unreasonable investigation did not take long, and contrary information did not stop it from publishing its first story in its Sunday newspaper the next day.

One of the reporters on the story first retweeted the video approximately four hours before receiving credit for the Post’s first article. In the intervening time, the Post apparently managed to track down and interview Phillips, write a story, and fan the flames of the social media mob into a mainstream media frenzy of false attacks and threats against Nicholas.

In the Post’s own words – albeit a far cry from the true scope of the false and defamatory accusations it made against Nicholas – the readers of the Post’s coverage were “licensed to conclude that the students saw [Phillips] from afar, targeted him and advanced.”

Of course, the Post’s readers were also licensed to falsely conclude that Nicholas physically and verbally assaulted Phillips while blocking his egress from a mob of students who were similarly engaged in racist conduct.

The Post, whose coverage emphasized that Nicholas was wearing a “MAGA” hat, contributed to the rampant cyber-assault and cyber-bullying suffered by Nicholas in the aftermath of its initial reporting which was also undertaken in mass by the mob of other bullies made up of other members of the mainstream media, individuals tweeting on Twitter, church officials, celebrities, and politicians.

Even the Twitter platform itself jumped into the bully pulpit and was influenced by early media coverage of the Post, as demonstrated when its “moment” feature falsely accused Nicholas and his classmates of “mocking” Phillips.

According to reports, a Twitter spokesperson stated “Twitter Curation strives to fairly and accurately contextualize the nature of large conversations on the platform … The original Covington video appeared on Friday night. However, the Curation team did not compile a Moment until additional news media reporting emerged to provide context to the video – this included a source video interview with Nathan Phillips, which was featured in the Moment.”

The complaint asserts that the Post published “no less than six false and defamatory articles of and concerning Nicholas, including two in its print newspaper and four online. This number does not include those articles that the Post updated and changed after initial publication.”

In a pair of tweets Tuesday evening, Wood called the Post “the first & loudest media bully” who “ignored basic journalist standards because it was eager to advance its biased agenda” against President Trump.

Wood and McMurtry announced earlier this month that they sent preservation letters to over 50 media outlets, individual journalists, celebrities, and several Catholic dioceses as the first step in potential libel and defamation lawsuits.

Wood also recently confirmed that he intends to file suit against Nathan Phillips, whose false accusations got the ball rolling on the agenda-driven smear campaign against Sandmann and the rest of the Covington boys.

Wood explained in a tweet last week that a sworn deposition from Phillips would “prove invaluable in obtaining justice” for his client.