On Tuesday evening, Todd McMurtry, co-counsel for Nicholas Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School student savaged by the media shortly after the March for Life, announced his defamation lawsuit against CNN for $275 million. Lawyer L. Lin Wood had warned of a lawsuit coming this week, and sure enough, it dropped Tuesday.
“Well, we just filed the lawsuit today in the Federal District Court in Kentucky, the Eastern District,” McMurtry told Sandra Smith in an exclusive for Fox News’s “The Story With Martha McCallum.” And as you said earlier, it is a significant lawsuit seeking $75 million in compensatory damages and $200 million in punitive damages from CNN.”
The lawyer dug into CNN. “CNN’s tagline is ‘Facts First.’ And what we believe their reporting was in this circumstance was lies first, cover up second, and facts not yet determined by that organization,” he quipped.
McMurtry argued that CNN “is a very significant media organization with a much broader reach than, say, The Washington Post. It has Twitter followers of 41 million people. It published four videos, nine online articles that were tweeted out. So that’s millions and millions and millions of repetitions of the lies and falsehoods that CNN spread.”
Last month, Wood and McMurtry sued The Washington Post for $250 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
Before the media onslaught, “Nicholas Sandmann was a 16-year-old man who had a perfect reputation: he was loved by his parents, respected at his school, and had many good friends at Covington Catholic High School. So he was a person that was doing very well in life and due to his strong character, he still is,” the lawyer said.
“But nevertheless, his character has now been determined by the lies issued by CNN. So the facts were not first, the lies were,” McMurtry added.
Fox News played a clip of the video that CNN spread at 7 a.m. the day after the incident.
“Sending out a short snippet like that at 7 a.m. after the event happens is totally irresponsible, completely negligent, and in our view subject to punitive damages,” the lawyer said. “They did this without any reasonable investigation. They took something straight off Twitter that had been, in essence, manipulated so that it told one story and they reported it as the truth.”
Before filing the lawsuit, Sandmann’s lawyers gave CNN an opportunity to retract. “They did not retract within the timeline provided for by Kentucky law. So their opportunity to retract is now passed. So we will proceed for our lawsuit for both compensatory and punitive damages.”
McMurtry said there will be more lawsuits coming down the pike. “We plan to file a suit every few weeks or month. We probably have 10 — at least 10 top targets in the media and individuals, some of whom were people that were involved in — in Twitter attacks,” he said. Many of these outlets and individuals will have an opportunity to retract first.
“As to whom we are looking at, who we think crossed the line; certainly we’re looking very closely at NBC, we’re looking very closely at AP, we’re looking very closely at HBO for the conduct of Bill Maher, and we’re looking at some of the people who — like Kathy Griffin, who sent out these — these horrible tweets that are — that are called doxxing,” revealing a person’s name and contact information.
The co-counsel said that The Washington Post and CNN were “the top two,” but there are many more lawsuits “very close in line.” The other lawsuits may not reach $275 million, but they’re likely to be quite hefty.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.