Many in the media faced legal consequences before for smearing teenager Nick Sandmann. But that isn’t keeping them from hurling insults at the teenager, following his RNC speech.
On August 25, Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School graduate who sued media outlets for defamation after their coverage of an interaction between him and Native American activist Nathan Phillips, spoke at the Republican National Convention. He drew attention to biased media and urged that journalists be held accountable. Following his comments, media figures and political activists called him everything from “snot-nosed” to a “tiny Nazi.”
Sandmann, a Kentucky native, sued outlets including the Washington Post, The New York Times, and CNN after he and his classmates, many of whom wore pro-Trump hats, were cast as racist instigators.
"I’m the teenager who was defamed by the media after an encounter with a group of protestors on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last year," Sandmann introduced himself at the RNC.
After attending the March for Life in defense of the unborn, he said he purchased a Make America Great Again hat because President Trump “has distinguished himself as one of the most pro-life presidents.”
“Looking back now, how could I have possibly imagined that the simple act of putting on that red hat would unleash hate from the left and make myself the target of network and cable news networks nationwide?" he asked. “I found myself face-to-face with Nathan Phillips and other professional protestors looking to turn me into the latest poster child showing why Trump is bad.”
Even now, Sandmann is a media target. Following his speech, commentators and political figures personally attacked the teenager.
One of the most attention-grabbing comments came from CNN political analyst Joe Lockhart, who tweeted, “i don't have to watch this snot nose entitled kid from Kentucky.”
After a backlash, Lockhart ironically complained about the “personal attacks” that he himself had received for his earlier tweet.
Also associated with CNN, opinion writer Jeff Yang tweeted, “Hey @N1ckSandmann, I watched your speech tonight at the #RNCConvention2020 with an open mind, thinking I might hear something that would convince me of your position that you were an innocent victim of a cruel media.”
“I was disappointed, but not surprised, to hear otherwise,” he concluded.
Alyssa Mastromonaco, a Crooked Media co-host and former Obama White House official, simply tweeted, “F*** that guy,” in response to Sandmann’s RNC address.
A stand-up comedian, Paul Danke added, “Weird that they didn’t dress Nick Sandmann up like a little boy at his confirmation rehearsal dinner for the RNC.”
“I guess he’s a man now that he’s 18 and they’re trying to pivot his brand from threatened scaredy-pie baby face to future landlords of America poster boy,” Danke added. “F***. Him.”
From its general Twitter account, HuffPost insisted, “Nicholas Sandmann and many of the speakers at the #RNC2020 are purely creations of the right-wing media ecosystem.” In other words, their “viral moments or relevance would have faded if it wasn’t for their utility to conservative media and their white grievance politics.”
From Toronto, journalist and author Damien Cox tweeted, “This poor Sandmann boy has been thoroughly indoctrinated. Scary.”
LGBT news blog Towleroad reacted, “Omg, it’s Nicholas Sandmann, the poster boy for Incel Orthodontia.”
According to one Democratic strategist, Max Burns, who writes for media outlets including Business Insider and the Daily Beast, Sandmann’s “sole purpose at #RNC2020 is to stoke white racial grievance.”
New York Times contributing opinion writer Wajahat Ali tweeted, “This is catnip for MAGA,” but “Don't know if it works for the majority.”
“If Nick Sandmann just came out and spoke like a normal kid, it'd work,” he said. “It would evoke some empathy. But they used him as a billboard for Trump talking points and GOP hits.”
AJ+ producer Dena Takruri described Sandmann as “That smug privileged teenage boy who wore a MAGA hat while he mocked an Indigenous man in front of the Lincoln Memorial.”
“I don't give a flying f*** about hearing ‘his side of the story,’” she added.
Regardless of his political affiliation, Sandmann – a teenager – deserves better. And, regardless of the issue, when media and political figures resort to personal insults, they lose credibility even if there’s credible concern.