DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - Nick Sandmann's legal team is suing NBCUniversal for $275 million, bringing the number of lawsuits filed on behalf of the aggrieved Covington Catholic High School student to three. Prior to suing NBC, Sandmann's attorneys also sought financial restitution from cable news network CNN for $275 million and The Washington Post newspaper for $250 million.
The suit names NBCUniversal and its networks and platforms — including NBC, MSNBC and the NBC owned-and-operated stations — as defendants. The suit also alleges attacks on Sandmann were posted online on corresponding websites and Twitter accounts for NBC News, MSNBC, the 11 NBC owned-and-operated stations, the "Today" show and "NBC Nightly News" with Lester Holt.
"Between January 19 and January 27, 2019, NBCUniversal unleashed its vast corporate wealth, influence, and power against Nicholas to falsely attack him despite the fact that at the time, he was a 16-year-old high school student," reads the complaint.
Sandmann was at the center of a national debate when photos and highly edited video depicted him confronting a Native American protestor on the Washington Mall in the nation's capital on Jan. 18. The young man's Make America Great Again hat and confused expression were widely interpreted in media outlets as evidence Sandmann was a smirking, entitled racist, which was later proven false.
A more complete picture emerged days later exonerating the then-16-year-old Kentucky resident. In fact, more than two hours of subsequently released video revealed the young man had conducted himself more than admirably as the Covington students were subjected to racist taunts from a fringe group calling itself the Black Hebrew Israelites.
The full video also divulges Nathan Phillips deliberately approached Sandmann while chanting and ominously beating a Native American drum near the young man's face.
Before his name was cleared, however, journalists and opinion writers piled on Sandmann and his classmates with defamatory comments related to the Covington students' race, religion and politically explicit head apparel. Even after the initial negative perceptions were dispelled, many in the media continued to disparage the young men. According to the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky:
NBCUniversal attacked Nicholas by rely
ing heavily on biased and unreliable sources without conducting any reasonable investigation of the circumstances surrounding the January 18 incident.
NBCUniversal's attacks on Nicholas
included at least fifteen (15) defamatory television broadcasts, six (6) de famatory online articles, and many tweets falsely accusing Nicholas and his Covington Catholic High Sc hool ("CovCath") classmates of racists acts, including among other things, engaging in racist conduct by instigating a threatening confrontation with several African American men ("the Black Hebrew Israelites") and subsequently instigating a threatening confrontation with Native Americans who were allegedly in the midst of prayer during the Indigenous Peoples March at the National Mall wh en Nicholas confronted them , during which NBCUniversal asserted Nicholas assaulted both the Blac k Hebrew Israelites and Native American political activist Phillips.
"NBCUniversal created a false narrative by portraying the 'confrontation' as a 'hate crime' committed by Nicholas," said the complaint, which also reads:
This action for defamation arises out of television and online reporting by
NBCUniversal Media, LLC, which published false and defamatory accusations against Plaintiff Nicholas Sandmann ("Nicholas"), a minor, the 16-year-old student who stood quietly for several minutes after being unex pectedly confronted without explanation by Nathan Phillips ("Phillips"), a Native America n activist, who beat a drum and sang loudly within inches of his face on January 18, 2019 , at the Lincoln Memorial (the "January 18 incident").
Long after exculpatory video evidence proved Sandmann did nothing wrong, says the complaint, NBC and the cable news programs under its aegis such as MSNBC, continued to defame the high-school junior.
Over the course of its coverage, NBCUniversal failed and refused to acknowledge that Nicholas did nothing wrong and continued to perpetuate its false narrative for over one week following the January 18 incident.
Indeed, NBCUniversal continued to imply — and even outright state — that Nicholas was culpable for racist behavior for which he should, at the very least, apologize. NBCUniversal continued to promote its false narrative that Nicholas had instigated a racist confrontation with Phillips long after Phillips was exposed as a fraud whose version of events was not entitled to any credibility by responsible members of the media.
The false narrative referred to in the complaint included a recurrent theme on NBC and its affiliate networks that depicted the incident on the Washington Mall as a hate crime perpetrated by white adolescents invigorated by President Trump.
Additionally, the complaint notes that NBC repeatedly aired heavily edited videos to cast Sandmann and his cohort in a falsely negative light.
The suit also tackles allegations made by NBC owned-and-operated stations that Sandmann and his classmates intentionally interrupted prayers and songs at the Indigenous Peoples March. In fact, the Covington students were at the Washington Mall to attend the annual March for Life, and Phillips and his fellow Native Americans initiated the confrontation.
"Throughout its coverage, NBCUniversal refused to admit the truth that incontrovertible video evidence established that Nicholas, a minor child, did nothing wrong and was instead the victim of two separate groups of adult political activists before becoming the victim of NBCUniversal and the mainstream media," states the complaint.