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Tipsheet

WaPo Issues Big Fat Correction For Big Fat Failures In Covington Catholic Kids Coverage

Yesterday, the Washington Post issued a doozy of an Editor's Note regarding their dismal coverage of the now-infamous Covington Catholic High School students vs. Native American elder Nathan Phillips "standoff" at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. It turns out, more than a month later, the editors of WaPo have decided now is a good time to admit they may or may not have told the truth when they first reported on the story.

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As Townhall reported at the time, initial clips and photos of  Catholic high school students returning from the pro-life March for Life "seemed to show a gang of white boys with combovers, red "Make America Great Hats", and smug smirks harassing a Native American named Nathan Phillips in Washington, DC. The initial videos from this event seethed with racism. It appeared to be a group of unruly teenage punks mocking a frail elderly man. Adults everywhere went berserk...The Native American, on the other hand, was praised for his determination and resilience." 

The only problem was none of this was true, at all, but a national media outcry was already underway within hours of this fake news story breaking. The resulting aftermath included these high school students' entire lives being torn apart on social media, death threats canceling their school day, and specious venom hurled in their direction from nearly every liberal outlet and personality in America.

The main student in that video, Nicholas Sandmann, hired a lawyer and began to sue numerous outlets who defamed his name and school's reputation. One of those outlets was WaPo, which appears to be trying to cover its tracks by issuing the following correction about their initial coverage:

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A Washington Post article first posted online on Jan. 19 reported on a Jan. 18 incident at the Lincoln Memorial. Subsequent reporting, a student’s statement and additional video allow for a more complete assessment of what occurred, either contradicting or failing to confirm accounts provided in that story — including that Native American activist Nathan Phillips was prevented by one student from moving on, that his group had been taunted by the students in the lead-up to the encounter, and that the students were trying to instigate a conflict. The high school student facing Phillips issued a statement contradicting his account; the bishop in Covington, Ky., apologized for the statement condemning the students; and an investigation conducted for the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School found the students’ accounts consistent with videos.Subsequent Post coverage, including video, reported these developments: Viral standoff between a tribal elder and a high schooler is more complicated than it first seemed”; “Kentucky bishop apologizes to Covington Catholic students, says he expects their exoneration”; “Investigation finds no evidence of ‘racist or offensive statements’ in Mall incident.

A Jan. 22 correction to the original story reads: Earlier versions of this story incorrectly said that Native American activist Nathan Phillips fought in the Vietnam War. Phillips said he served in the U.S. Marines but was never deployed to Vietnam.

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But, Sandmann's attorney told Reason.com that WaPo's correction is not nearly enough to make up for their errors. 

"What The Washington Post put out is barely worth comment," Todd McMurtry, an attorney for Sandmann, told Reason. "WaPo committed gross journalistic malpractice and cannot undo its deeds with an editor's note that purports to correct the record over a month after it led a frenzied mob in trashing a minor's reputation. The Sandmanns would never accept half of a half-measure from an organization that still refuses to own up to its error."

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