CNN Acknowledges Getting Sued for $275 Million by Covington Student

March 21, 2019 Updated: March 21, 2019

CNN delayed telling its viewers it was getting sued for $275 million for more than a week, the Media Research Center (MRC) reported on March 20.

The defamation suit was filed on March 12 by lawyers of Nick Sandmann, a student at Covington Catholic High School.

However, in the following days, the news outlet appears to have only mentioned the suit against CNN on its website once, halfway down a March 12 newsletter published by CNN Business the day after the lawsuit was filed.

On March 21, the day after the MRC report, CNN published an article acknowledging the lawsuit.

“Between January 19 and January 25, 2019, CNN brought down the full force of its corporate power, influence, and wealth on Nicholas by falsely attacking, vilifying, and bullying him despite the fact that he was a minor child,” the suit states.

Covington Incident

The lawsuit stems from a Jan. 18 incident that took place after the March for Life anti-abortion event in Washington. Sandmann and other students from the religious private school in Kentucky were waiting for their bus near the Lincoln Memorial when they were approached by several Native American activists.

The encounter was extensively covered by media using short video clips that made it appear as though the students were chanting and cheering in mockery of one of the Native American activists, 64-year-old Nathan Phillips.

CNN was one of those media groups, allegedly using titles such as “Teens Taunt Native American Elder” and “Teens Harass Native American War Veteran.”

Longer video footage of the incident showed the students began to cheer and chant their school chant to drown out offensive remarks hurled their way by a small group of Black Hebrew Israelites nearby. Some of the students were wearing hats with President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”—a fact capitalized upon by various media.

While Phillips told media outlets that the students had surrounded and harassed him, the footage showed it was he who approached them, inserted himself into their crowd, and, for several minutes, banged his drum within inches of the face of Sandmann, who responded by standing silently with a smile.

Extensive Coverage

The suit alleges that CNN defamed Sandmann in at least four television broadcasts, nine online articles, and four tweets.

“Contrary to its ‘Facts First’ public relations ploy, CNN ignored the facts and put its anti-Trump agenda first in waging a 7-day media campaign of false, vicious attacks against Nicholas,” the suit stated.

MRC noted that CNN didn’t delay its news coverage when Sandmann filed suit against The Washington Post on Feb. 19, claiming $250 million in damages.

“On February 20, the network ran three separate news briefs on its early morning shows covering that filing,” the media watchdog stated. “In one such report, Early Start fill-in co-host Boris Sanchez noted that the viral video of the teen had ‘initially touched off accusations that Sandmann was a bigot’—conveniently failing to mention that his network was also a prominent voice in the chorus of such accusations.”

The network ran 43 minutes of coverage on the Covington incident over the first two days, MRC reported.

A statement by CNN, quoted in its March 21 article, said the network “is reviewing the lawsuit,” adding that “CNN reported on a newsworthy event and public discussion about it, taking care to report on additional facts as they developed and to share the perspectives of eyewitnesses and other participants and stakeholders as they came forward.”

Both CNN and MRC didn’t respond to requests for additional comment.

NBC, HBO, and The Associated Press may be next in line to be sued for their reporting and commentary on Sandmann, one of his lawyers Todd McMurtry told Fox News on March 13.

Follow Petr on Twitter: @petrsvab
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