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Washington Post settles $250 million defamation suit with student Nick Sandmann

Newsrooms across the nation, enjoying relative immunity from the consequences of publishing falsified stories, have again been rocked this week. Nick Sandmann, the high school student who was subjected to negative press coverage over an encounter with a Native American, announced he settled a defamation lawsuit against the Washington Post for its coverage.

“I filed $250M defamation lawsuit against Washington Post. Today, I turned 18 & WaPo settled my lawsuit. Thanks to @ToddMcMurtry & @LLinWood for their advocacy,” he wrote on Twitter. “Thanks to my family & millions of you who have stood your ground by supporting me. I still have more to do.”

Sandmann was previously victorious in forcing CNN to settle a $275 million lawsuit over the same incident. And he says he’s not done yet.

In a video that went viral on social media in 2019, Sandmann and other students with Kentucky’s Covington High School were in Washington D.C for the annual March of Life – the nation’s largest pro-life gathering. An purposely edited version of the video attempted to show the students and Sandmann surrounding and intimidating a Native American activist, Nathan Phillips. News rooms across the nation picked up the false narrative even after a longer version of the video showed that the students were not taunting or berating Phillips. The video previously showed extremist group Black Hebrew Israelites using vulgar language against the students.

One of those newspapers leading with the false story, even after the truth had been revealed, was the Washington Post.

A spokesperson for the Post told news outlets that the suit was settled. “We are pleased that we have been able to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of the remaining claims in this lawsuit,” the spokesperson said.

In the $250 million lawsuit, Sandmann alleged that the Washington Post’s reporting falsely claimed he instigated the incident. His attorneys cited several of the paper’s articles and said they “communicated the false and defamatory gist that Nicholas instigated a confrontation with Phillips and subsequently engaged in racist conduct.”

“In a span of three days in January of this year commencing on January 19, the Post engaged in a modern-day form of McCarthyism by competing with CNN and NBC, among others, to claim leadership of a mainstream and social media mob of bullies which attacked, vilified, and threatened Nicholas Sandmann, an innocent secondary school child,” his attorneys said in the February 2019 suit.

Sandmann also issued a warning to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

“We have settled with WAPO and CNN. The fight isn’t over. 2 down. 6 to go. Don’t hold your breath @jack,” he wrote on the website.

Sandmann, who was wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap, was seen staring at Phillips as he played a drum. News outlets and Twitter users then accused Sandmann of harassment and of being a racist, but a longer version of the clip showed a different story.

An investigation carried out by the Catholic Diocese of Covington later revealed that the students made no offensive or racist comments about Phillips.

Details of Sandmann’s settlement are not clear.

His lawyers, Lin Wood and Todd McMurtry, filed the defamation suit against the Washington Post and several other news outlets. The lawsuit against the Post claims the Jeff Bezos-owned newspaper “wrongfully targeted and bullied Nicholas because he was the white, Catholic student wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ souvenir cap on a school field trip to the Jan. 18 (2019) March for Life in Washington, D.C.”

Earlier this year, the teen settled a multi-million dollar suit against CNN. Details about that case are not clear.

Sandmann has remaining lawsuits against NBC, the New York Times, CBS News, ABC News, Gannett, and Rolling Stone.