CNN on Tuesday settled a defamation lawsuit filed by Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann over its botched coverage of a viral confrontation with a Native American elder that had portrayed the Kentucky teen as the aggressor.
Fox 19 first reported that CNN settled with Sandmann for an undisclosed amount. The $250 million defamation suit sought damages for the “emotional distress Nicholas and his family suffered” in the fallout of the network’s reporting.
A lawyer for Sandmann declined to comment on the settlement but confirmed to Fox News that lawsuits against The Washington Post and NBC were ongoing. Fox 19 also reported that Sandmann attorney L. Lin Wood told the judge they planned to sue media company Gannett, the publisher of the Cincinnati Enquirer among other newspapers, within 60 days. Gannett did not immediately comment either.
Yes, We settled with CNN.
— Nicholas Sandmann (@N1ckSandmann) January 7, 2020
Last March, Sandmann’s attorneys launched their suit against CNN for its coverage of the incident before all the facts had surfaced. The teen was seeking a whopping $800 million in damages between the three news outlets.
I want to thank everyone for the many good wishes received today. Now, @LLinWood and I turn our attention to @NBCNews, @washingtonpost
and additional defendants to be named soon. #NickSandmann https://t.co/HeJ0TrwJ8q
— Todd V. McMurtry (@ToddMcMurtry) January 7, 2020
Sandmann was swept up in a controversy after a video clip depicted the “MAGA” hat-wearing student smiling at Nathan Phillips beating a drum and singing a chant as he was surrounded by Sandmann’s peers, who all had joined in on the chant in front of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
However, several mainstream media outlets, including CNN, portrayed the incident with Sandmann and the other teens as being racially-charged before it was discovered by additional footage that a group of Black Hebrew Israelites had provoked the confrontation by slinging racial slurs at the students as they were waiting for their bus following last year’s March For Life event in Washington D.C. Footage then showed Phillips, who was in town for the Indigenous Peoples March, approaching the students amid the rising tension between the two groups.
Neither CNN nor NBC commented; a Post spokesperson previously said, “While we do not accept the characterizations and contentions regarding our reporting of the incident at the Lincoln Memorial, we have taken steps to address the concerns expressed to us. The full story did not emerge all at once and throughout our coverage, we sought to produce accurate reports. Even the comments of the school and church officials changed, and The Post provided ongoing coverage of the conflicting versions of this event and its aftermath, giving prominent attention to the student’s account and the investigative findings supporting it. We thus have provided a fair and accurate historical record of how this incident unfolded.”