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A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School student who filed a $250 million lawsuit against the Washington Post for defamation of character.
Sandmann became an avatar for free speech, viral stories, and bias in journalism when a video of him in a confrontation with a Native American man exploded on the internet. Covington was wearing a red Make America Great Again hat and was filmed staring down Nathan Phillips after an anti-abortion rally in Washington, D.C., in January.
The video was interpreted in different ways by different news outlets. Some said the students from Covington Catholic were harassing people of color, and others argued the students showed admirable restraint after being harassed themselves.
Sandmann was front and center in the video and objected to his portrayal in the news, saying reporters unfairly depicted him. Weeks after the incident, Sandmann announced he was suing the Washington Post for defamation, demanding $250 million. He filed a similar suit against CNN for $275 million.
“[The Post] intended to harm Nicholas because he was a white, Catholic boy wearing a MAGA hat, and consciously ignored the threats of harm that it knew would inevitably ensue, in favor of its political agenda,” the suit read.
On Friday, however, a judge dismissed the case. Federal Judge William Bertelsman found that Sandmann’s characterization of the Post’s article in his suit was inaccurate. Lawyers for Sandmann said the paper painted him as racist in its original reporting.
“This is not supported by the plain language in the article, which states none of these things,” the judge wrote in his decision.
In the end, like many incidents that breathlessly envelop the news cycle for a week, this too amounted to much ado about nothing.
- Covington teenager sues CNN for defamation, seeks $275 million
- Videos show alleged Covington teens harassing women, making rape jokes at march
- Twitter suspends account that spread MAGA teen confrontation
- MAGA teen who confronted Native elder says he ‘respects all races’
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David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]