Yesterday, John provided a roundup of the reactions to the news that CNN had settled the Covington Catholic lawsuit brought by Nick Sandmann. While plenty of Sandmann’s supporters were weighing in with approval, the network itself was largely quiet on the subject. There were a few tweets from some of their on-air personnel and a few brief mentions, but no specifics were offered.
Later on, however, CNN did actually put an article up on their website. If you were looking for it on the front page you would have been disappointed because, for some reason, it wound up in the business section.
CNN has settled a lawsuit with a Kentucky high school student who was at the center of a viral video controversy, a spokesperson for the news network confirmed Tuesday.
No other details were immediately available. An attorney for the student, Nicholas Sandmann, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Sandmann only tweeted, “Yes, we settled with CNN.”
The news was first reported by WXIX-TV. The local outlet said a settlement figure was not made public at a court hearing in Covington, Kentucky.
CNN’s Oliver Darcy went on to describe the agreement as one that would allow the network “to avoid a lengthy and potentially unpredictable trial.” I’d say that’s putting it mildly.
Darcy goes on to describe the sequence of events playing out in the media, still apparently trying to make it sound as if CNN didn’t do anything wrong. He talks about the first, truncated and misleading video and how it “went viral.” Only later, he explains, did a more lengthy video emerge that “provided additional context for the encounter.”
That may well be true, but if you’re supposed to be the world’s trusted source for news, wouldn’t it be incumbent upon you to speak to all the people involved, find that additional video and have the entire story before you start trashing a teenager just because he was wearing a MAGA hat?
Getting back to the underlying question, why did CNN decide to settle when NBC and the WaPo are still fighting it out? Many legal analysts have speculated that there are so many loopholes in our libel laws and such hesitancy to punish news outlets due to First Amendment concerns that they might still have prevailed. There’s been one convincing theory gaining traction on social media, as typified in this tweet.
CNN settled to avoid discovery.
I can't even begin to imagine the hate and lies we would see from those internal messages.
— John Ocasio-Nolte (@NolteNC) January 8, 2020
Given how awful the hot takes from some of the network’s reporters were that we saw in public, it’s not hard to imagine what they were saying in emails and text messages behind the scenes. So yes… the discovery process in the lawsuit likely would have been a “horror show” for CNN. Keep in mind that one of their own reporters suggested that Sandmann needed to be “punched in the face.” And that’s just what they were saying in public. Just try to picture what was probably going on in the background.
— Matt Wolking (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@MattWolking) January 21, 2019
I’m still trying to figure out what’s keeping NBC and the WaPo in the game. Have they cleaned their closets thoroughly enough to make sure they don’t run into a similar horror show during discovery? Or do they just not care anymore?