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Tipsheet

Judge Dismisses Covington Student's Defamation Case Against Washington Post

Despite having his name dragged through the mud nationwide over completely bogus allegations that he and his Covington Catholic classmates were intimidating and threatening a Native American elder, a judge ruled on Friday that high school student Nicholas Sandmann had no legal claims of defamation against The Washington Post.

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Here's what I reported at the time:

...on Saturday when a viral video 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. Many called for these kids to be punished heavily by their school. Others deemed social shunning the appropriate remedy. My priest declared it a "dark stain" on the Catholic Church. The Native American, on the other hand, was praised for his determination and resilience. 

Yet, new videos have now emerged that show this narrative may not be the case. Testimony from students at the incident presents the facts in a new light. But, unfortunately, because of the Pavlovian response from adults who should know better, none of that may matter for the reputation and future of these boys. Perhaps more egregiously is that almost none of their harshest critics seem interested in getting into the truth of the matter.

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The subsequent video evidence also showed that Sandmann did nothing wrong. But, in the days and weeks that followed, the social media harassment intensified. Much of this stemmed from mainstream media, like the Washington Post, perpetuating the original story.

However, a Kentucky judge ruled Friday that despite this, Sandmann could not sue the paper.

Fox News has the details as to what the lawsuit stated:

The lawsuit claimed the Post falsely labeled Sandmann a racist by publishing articles that "falsely accused Nicholas of ... 'accost[ing]' Phillips by 'suddenly swarm[ing]' him in a 'threaten[ing]' and 'physically intimidat[ing]' manner ... 'block[ing]' Phillips path, refusing to allow Phillips 'to retreat,' 'taunting the dispersing indigenous crowd,' [and] chanting, 'Build that wall,' 'Trump2020,' or 'Go back to Africa.'"

The suit, which called for $250 million in compensatory and punitive damages, accused the paper of practicing "a modern-day form of McCarthyism" by targeting Sandmann and "using its vast financial resources to enter the bully pulpit by publishing a series of false and defamatory print and online articles ... to smear a young boy who was in its view an acceptable casualty in their war against the president."

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The Washington Post issued the following statement after the lawsuit's dismissal:

"From our first story on this incident to our last, we sought to report fairly and accurately the facts that could be established from available evidence, the perspectives of all of the participants, and the comments of the responsible church and school officials."

Sandmann's father's slammed the decision saying, "I believe fighting for justice for my son and family is of vital national importance. If what was done to Nicholas is not legally actionable, then no one is safe."

The family plans on appealing the decision. 

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