Lawyers for Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against NBCUniversal seeking $275 million for false and defamatory media coverage related to the viral incident that happened in Washington, D.C., following the March for Life in January.
“Today, Nicholas Sandmann sued NBC & MSNBC for defamation in federal court in Kentucky seeking accountability for false accusations,” Sandmann’s attorney L. Lin Wood announced on Twitter. “Nicholas did not instigate a hate crime or engage in racist conduct.”
Today, Nicholas Sandmann sued NBC & MSNBC for defamation in federal court in Kentucky seeking accountability for false accusations. Nicholas did not instigate a hate crime or engage in racist conduct. Complaint available @ToddMcMurtry. #ReformOurMedia
— Lin Wood (@LLinWood) May 1, 2019
Wood, an Atlanta-based attorney who specializes in aggressive defamation suits against the media, was hired by the Sandmanns, along with family lawyer Todd McMurtry, to bring justice to Nick, after the 16-year-old’s name was dragged through the mud following the incident in D.C. A short video clip that went viral on Twitter gave many people the false impression that Sandmann and the Covington Catholic boys were targeting and mocking Native American activist Nathan Phillips.
Subsequent video clips showed that the Covington kids were the ones who were targeted by two separate groups of protesters — the Native American group led by Phillips and a black separatist group that viciously heckled the boys for over an hour. Contrary to the original narrative, the kids didn’t mob and block Phillips — the activist walked right up to them and stopped in front of the MAGA hat-wearing Sandmann while loudly beating a drum and chanting in his face.
“Instead of accurately reporting on the event, NBCUniversal published and broadcast a false storyline – portraying the January 18 incident as a hate crime even after the truth surfaced,” the lawyer’s complaint states. “NBCUniversal continued to cling to its description of the January 18 incident as a hate crime in an effort to cover up its journalistic failures and its inaccurate reporting.”
The complaint details the extent of NBCUniversal’s media malpractice:
NBCUniversal created panels on its talk shows to frame the January 18 incident as one involving a “hate crime” and demonstrating “white supremacy” as a result of “whites” being “emboldened” by President Trump’s presence in the White House and repeated these premises over and over, while continuously showing a carefully selected few seconds from the heavily edited videos that omitted the entire context of the incident.
NBCUniversal for many days falsely described the incident as having occurred during the Indigenous Peoples March – despite the undisputed evidence that the incident occurred after and apart from the location of the Indigenous Peoples March – thus shoring up its false narrative that Nicholas had perpetrated some type of “hate crime” by aggressively interrupting prayer and song at the Indigenous Peoples March.
NBCUniversal published these attacks against Nicholas across its large web of media outlets, including broadcasting and advertising them on NBC, MSNBC, and the NBC Owned and Operated Stations, and also posting them online on the separate websites and/or Twitter accounts for NBC News, MSNBC, the eleven NBC Owned and Operated Stations, the
TODAY Show and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.
Throughout its coverage, NBCUniversal refused to admit the truth that incontrovertible video evidence established that Nicholas, a minor child, did nothing wrong and was instead the victim of two separate groups of adult political activists before Although NBCUniversal acknowledged Sandmann was at the center of a viral controversy back in January, alongside reports suggesting that he and his classmates had initiated a confrontation with Native American elder Nathan Phillips outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Subsequent reporting and video evidence contradicted that version of events.
Although NBCUniversal acknowledged on January 19 that there was video indicating that it was Phillips who approached Nicholas – not the other way around as other members of the mainstream media were reporting – as late as January 27, MSNBC was still falsely broadcasting that Phillips was not the aggressor and that video evidence supported Phillips’ claims.
Although it was undisputedly clear by January 20 (at the very latest) that Nicholas had done nothing more than stand still while Phillips approached him and beat a drum in his face, as late as January 23 and 24, NBCUniversal was broadcasting and publishing stories indicating that Nicholas had taken actions for which he should apologize and for which Phillips had purportedly forgiven him.
Given the breadth of NBCUniversal’s media reach, its false and defamatory accusations against Nicholas were published repeatedly on various outlets and in the process, NBCUniversal’s coverage significantly contributed to a media frenzy that subjected Nicholas to public scorn, ridicule, and serious threats of physical harm.
“NBCUniversal created a false narrative by portraying the ‘confrontation’ as a ‘hate crime’ committed by Nicholas,” the lawsuit read, saying Sandmann was “an easy target for NBCUniversal to advance its anti-Trump agenda because he was a 16-year-old white, Catholic student who had attended the Right to Life March that day and was wearing a MAGA cap at the time of the incident which he had purchased earlier in the day as a souvenir.”
Wood and McMurtry announced in March that they sent preservation letters to over 50 media outlets, individual journalists, celebrities, including the Associated Press and HBO.
Wood also said 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.