Fox 19 in Ohio is reporting that CNN has reached a settlement with Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann. Sandmann had filed a $275 million defamation lawsuit against CNN last March. The amount of the settlement hasn’t been revealed yet:
CNN agreed Tuesday to settle a lawsuit with Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann.
The amount of the settlement was not made public during a hearing at the federal courthouse in Covington, Kentucky…
Attorneys say the money they’re seeking is not designed to compensate Nick, but to “deter the defendants” from doing the same thing (that they’re accused of) in the future.
This really was an egregious incident. For a day or two it seemed the entire media and plenty of individual progressive reporters and commentators on social media were determined to crush a high school kid over his hat and…his smile. In case you’ve forgotten:
Flashback in light of today’s $ settlement https://t.co/HQy3AQIshv
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) January 7, 2020
The Covington students inspired a lot of passion over the weekend, including this Vulture writer who said he hoped the teenagers and their parents would diehttps://t.co/ljzBYTKFyD pic.twitter.com/82kOvnVF0L
— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) January 21, 2019
— Matt Wolking (@MattWolking) January 21, 2019
And on and on it went like that. There were thousands of similar tweets from progressive randos and blue-checked professionals. But most of what assumed and then reported about the incident was misleading or simply wrong. Fortunately, there was video which showed what led up to the standoff between Nathan Phillips and Nick Sandmann. A group of Black Hebrew Israelites had been harassing the high school group as they waited for a bus on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The students had remained calm and respectful, occasionally chanting school chants in response to some of the offensive thins said to them. Here’s what I wrote at the time:
There was plenty of racist, ugly language being tossed around in front of the Lincoln Memorial last Friday but the media botched the story when it assumed it was coming from the high school students. In reality, it was coming from the [cult members who were apparently there to agitate the Native Americans and only turned on the white kids when that wasn’t going well. In fact, the preacher’s question “Why you not angry at them?” pretty much sums up this entire affair. The boys in the MAGA hats were a soft target. The cult preacher saw it and so did the media and the left-wing celebrities who went all in on the teens because why not be angry at them?
Lots of other people wrote good takedowns of the media rush to judgment. In light of the facts, some of the people who attacked Sandmann and his classmates did later apologize. Still, it was a very revealing incident about the media’s interest in running off with a narrative that it finds appealing on ideological grounds long before it has the facts.
Sandmann has also filed a $250 million claim against the Washington Post. That case was dismissed last summer, however in October the judge partially reversed his own decision and said 3 of Sandmann’s 33 claims could go forward. I suspect that’s partly what brought CNN to the settlement table. If some portion of the case was likely to go to trial, the network was on the hook to defend itself whether or not they expected to eventually win.
On that point, I’ve seen speculation that Sandmann could ultimately lose the case on First Amendment grounds but I wonder if news outlets feel like rolling the dice given what happened to Oberlin College. The circumstances are different but Oberlin has also claimed that its behavior should be protected by the First Amendment. The jury didn’t buy it in that case and the payout was substantial. Maybe CNN didn’t want to roll the dice. So far, CNN’s media reporters have been silent about the settlement:
Feels like a super newsy media story. https://t.co/T8FlDVkqEY
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) January 7, 2020
Hopefully we’ll soon learn how much CNN has agreed to pay and also whether or not they agreed to make a public apology as part of the settlement. In the meantime, here’s Sandmann’s attorney Todd McMurtry discussing the lawsuit against CNN when it was filed last March:
Update: CNN has confirmed the settlement exists.
A CNN spokesperson confirmed Tuesday with The Enquirer that a settlement was reached.
The network would not comment on the details of the settlement. Nick’s lawyers did not respond to phone calls or emails at the time of this report.
Update: And here’s Sandmann’s attorney promising he’s just getting started:
Update: Nick Sandmann confirms it.
Yes, We settled with CNN.
— Nicholas Sandmann (@N1ckSandmann) January 7, 2020
And from CNN itself:
"CNN has settled a lawsuit with a Kentucky H.S. student who was at the center of a viral video controversy," avoiding a potentially unpredictable trial, @oliverdarcy reports. Neither side is commenting on the settlement terms. https://t.co/XJVcY0izUp
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 7, 2020
There’s not much interesting or new in their story except maybe this line: “The settlement will allow CNN to avoid a lengthy and potentially unpredictable trial. Sandmann sought $275 million in damages in the lawsuit he filed against CNN last March.” As I suggested above, Oberlin may have lawyers being very cautious. Also, here’s a possibility I hadn’t considered:
CNN didn't settle w/Sandmann b/c they were guaranteed to lose at trial. In fact, given lax U.S. defamation laws (even against non-public figures, which Sandmann was), they still could have won.
They settled b/c the discovery process would have been horrifying for them.
— Jeff B., who on earth is this guy?? (@EsotericCD) January 7, 2020
Yes, I’m sure finding out that CNN’s anchors were bashing a teenager behind the scenes would be very embarrassing, but I don’t doubt they were.