By now you've probably seen the viral video of a young man in a Make America Great Again hat standing in front of a Native American veteran in the nation's capital over the weekend. As always, there are two sides two the story. Critics say the young man, a student at Covington Catholic School, accosted the veteran, Nathan Phillips, stood in his way and smirked at him. You'd probably think that too, judging by the photo.
Most media initially took Phillips's side, accusing the young man of "harassing" Phillips. Some pundits even suggested violence against the Trump-supporting teenager.
Honest question. Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid’s? pic.twitter.com/jolQ7BZQPD— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) January 20, 2019
In interviews, Phillips called the Catholic students racist.
"They were brought up to believe I’m less than human," said Nathan Phillips, the Native American leader taunted by students at the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington Friday https://t.co/H7E5IQFLWX— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 20, 2019
As the outrage against the students ensued, a video of the confrontation surfaced to paint a completely different picture. In the footage, Phillips is the first one to approach the MAGA-hat wearing boys.
Here is a video clearly showing that Nathan Phillips approached the students. On the basis of the evidence we now have, I believe that people who issued categorical and one-sided condemnations of the students should retract and apologize. pic.twitter.com/GxmXcMuQgC— Matthew Schmitz (@matthewschmitz) January 20, 2019
“Video footage strongly contradicts Native American veteran Nathan Phillips' claim that Covington Catholic High School boys harassed him," Reason's' Bobby Soave wrote in a very detailed report. "The media got this one completely wrong."
Another student from Covington who was at the rally and witnessed the exchange, corroborated Soave's explainer.
The young man himself, who has been identified as Nick Sandmann, a junior at Covington, eventually wrote his own explanation of events. He strongly rebuked the narrative that had been written about him.
Just in: Statement of Nick Sandmann, Covington Catholic High School junior, about the event at the Lincoln Memorial: pic.twitter.com/PkuMh2cVZM— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 20, 2019
Some called out the media outlets who ran with their narrative about the young man without all the context.
I watched video from every angle & can say this: Covington Catholic kids by no means acted perfectly, but Mr. Phillips is misrepresenting what happened, the homophobic Black Israelites are barely mentioned, & the media + online mob out for the blood of highschoolers is deranged.— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) January 20, 2019
Before waiting for all the evidence and witness testimony, a Democratic congressman suggested there's only one solution: Ban the apparel.
I am calling for a total and complete shutdown of teenagers wearing MAGA hats until we can figure out what is going on. They seem to be poisoning young minds. [1/2] https://t.co/yq5bLd4kE2— Rep. John Yarmuth (@RepJohnYarmuth) January 20, 2019
Social media users asked if he was serious. He gave no indication he wasn't.
"The conduct we saw in this video is beyond appalling, but it didn’t happen in a vacuum," Yarmuth wrote in another tweet. "This is a direct result of the racist hatred displayed daily by the President of the United States who, sadly, some mistake for a role model."
In light of recent events, Yarmuth sent a follow up message.
And if there was any question, I am a passionate supporter of the 1st Amendment. I will always defend the right to wear MAGA hats. Just not the un-American policies they represent.— Rep. John Yarmuth (@RepJohnYarmuth) January 20, 2019